Academic Hub to Anchor India Data Capacity Accelerator Request for Proposal (RFP)

Deadline extended: January 15, 2023 is a platform for partnerships to build the field of data for social impact (DSI). Launched in 2020 by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and The Rockefeller Foundation, we work with organizations from all over the world to increase the use of data to improve the lives of millions of people. Through one of our key initiatives, the Capacity Accelerator Network (CAN), we have committed to help train one million, purpose-driven data practitioners by 2032. As a part of CAN, following the launch of our Workforce Wanted report, we are currently building Data Capacity Accelerators in low- and middle-income countries that will train the next generation of data practitioners with the interdisciplinary skills needed to be successfully working at the intersection of climate and health.

India Data Capacity Accelerator

Data for social impact is a growing field in India with limited academic courses, training, or leadership development programs available. To transform the social impact sector and enable it to benefit from the data revolution, there is a strong need to address how we educate, train, and upskill the next generation of talent. The India Data Capacity Accelerator will catalyze the application of data to address systemic challenges at the intersection of climate and health. This accelerator is expected to produce a cohort of 150-200 data professionals with interdisciplinary subject-matter expertise in climate and health data over two years with a key focus on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) and intersectionality. Adjacent to each accelerator, 20-30 social impact or public sector organizations working with climate and health data will be supported to enhance their data science capabilities, including through some students from the cohort being placed with fellowship positions in these organizations upon graduation through projects curated by our partner, The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab South Asia (JPAL-SA). JPAL-SA would also work closely with the academic partner(s) to create internship opportunities for some students during their academic training.

Through this RFP, we seek an academic partner(s) that can design and anchor the training components of the Data Capacity Accelerator and work closely with JPAL-SA in ensuring the overall success of the program in India.

The academic partner(s) will have the opportunity to receive financial support for up to two years to host India’s first Data Capacity Accelerator. The total available funding is ~$600K USD for this initial phase with potential for follow-on funding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: December 19, 2022

  1. Are you selecting only one academic partner or multiple?
    We will select one or maximum of two academic partners for each component (DSI program and PEDP program) of the accelerator. This means the same partner may be selected for both components or two separate partners may be selected. We do encourage consortia to apply.
  2. Should the institute have a 2-year M.Tech or a 1-year Diploma?
    While an M.Tech is much more rigorous and involves a greater level of faculty involvement, we would like the program to be flexible wherein a part of the cohort could either :
    • Continue for another year and get a 2-year M.Tech degree, if an academic partner prefers this
    • Go for placement in social impact space after 1 year
    • Opt for 1-year fellowship by J-PAL after 1 year of diploma
  3. Do you prefer a rigorous internship or a field experience over a thesis?
    We prefer experiential learning that will expose the cohort to on-ground challenges and at the intersection of climate and health in the social impact space. We believe that case studies, project-based learning, and internships are better suited to provide students with this experience.
  4. Do you encourage a consortia to apply?
    Yes, provided the partners complement the delivery capabilities and skill sets, clearly noting the lead academic partner in the response submitted.
  5. Do you prefer on-campus/ off-campus or hybrid mode?
    We understand that for working professionals, enrolled in the PEDP program, it may be difficult to spend more time on campus. However, for the DSI cohorts, we would like to maximize their time on campus for better interaction with the cohort and the faculty members.

    We recognize that an on-campus program may have cost implications. Hence we leave the decision pertaining to the amount of time spent on campus to the academic partner(s).
  6. Does the program need to have 6-8 modules only? Does it need to have  2-4 semesters?
    6-8 are the minimum modules we expect. It could well be more. We prefer to lean on the academic partner’s expertise to propose a rigorous learning experience within the available resources.
  7. What will be the role of the academic partner on the internship projects?
    We would like the cohort to gain experiential learning. One of our partners, J-PAL, will provide some internship opportunities for the students. This may support about 25-30% of the cohort. However, for the rest of the cohort, we expect the academic partner to facilitate placements.
  8. Are there any specific recommendations with respect to modules/courses for PEDP (Professional and Executive Development Program)?
    We would trust the academic partner’s expertise in the program design. From our end, we believe that there is a need to reimagine how this new class of data practitioners for the social impact sector is created or upskilled. A problem-solving mindset through localization is vital. We would also like our cohort to be trained on the latest tools and analytics to get the work done by asking the right analytical questions.
  9. What support would the academic partner get with respect to enrolling students in this program?
    We believe that a data program run by a well-known university with good scholarships should not find it challenging to recruit a good cohort. & its partners will amplify the outreach efforts of the selected academic partner(s) in supporting them with the recruitment of students.
  10. Is this program only for tier 1 universities/institutions or is it applicable for tier 2 and tier 3 institutions as well?
    There is no such tier preference for the selection of academic partner/s.
  11. Can we include these modules with our existing courses as a part of an ongoing program-like specialization?
    Yes, we are open to receiving applications from organizations that have existing courses relevant to the work we propose and may want to build add-on modules through our support to make those programs channelized towards Data for Social Impact. As long as the requirements laid out in the RFP are fulfilled, this should be fine.
  12. Apart from Climate and Health, can the academic partner include other social sectors in this program?
    Although there exist interlinkages between other social sectors with climate and health, we would like the programmatic themes to be climate and health at this stage due to the nature of the current funding available for this program.
  13. If there is currently a course on relevant thematic areas (ex: artificial intelligence), can the respondent mention it in the RFP?
    Yes, you can mention that course and reuse elements from it, if you prefer to do so if it fits the RFP requirements.
  14. What is the technical depth and breadth of the course that will be required for this program?
    For the Data for Social Impact program, we expect a higher focus on technical skills vis-a-vis the PEDP program. However, we expect both programs to be designed with some focus on inculcating a problem-solving mindset with exposure to real-life case studies in the field of climate and health for the social impact sector.
  15. Can we obtain the curriculum of the Africa and USA accelerator program?
    The curriculum for these two accelerators is under preparation and is not developed as of now. Going forward, will facilitate the interaction between India, Africa, and US accelerators so that the curriculum and other best practices can evolve in a coherent manner. For reference, this is the link for institutes as part of the USA accelerator program:
  16. Can we expect the students who will enroll for the DSI program to be STEM graduates since a quantitative aptitude and an understanding of foundational courses at the undergraduate level may need to be covered for non-STEM students?
    Yes, you can put this as a requirement during the cohort recruitment, depending on the competencies you expect in the incoming students. We have not put this as an explicit requirement to make it flexible for a wider pool of applicants.
  17. What kind of tasks should a DSI graduate be able to do – this will help in determining the rigor of the program.
    We would not like to be prescriptive here. Depending on your understanding of the data skills required for analyzing the impact of climate change on health, we would like you to propose the program rigor that creates data talent valuable to the social impact sector and competent to address interdisciplinary challenges. Typically, data analysis on small datasets, data visualization, geospatial analysis, and data scrapping amongst others are useful and transferable skills.
  18. Do the academic institution take fees from the DSI/PEDP students in the first two years or the grant money should cover all the operating expenses for the academic institution?
    Our hope is that the grant money is able to cover a majority of program design, development, and operating expenses but the institution is free to charge nominal fees to cover any additional costs and to attract appropriate talent. We are open to considering applications from institutions that may charge the full fees from some students while making the program accessible to others who cannot afford it through scholarships, although institutions proposing zero or nominal fees for students may have a slight advantage if everything else is at par. The intent should be to ensure high standards of student quality in the selection process of the incoming class and then make every effort for the program to be available to the right candidate. 

Please note that the FAQ list presently addresses the questions asked to us at by prospective applicants. This list will be updated twice until the closing date of the RFP.

Submit questionsFor the following page update on
by 19 December 2022
22 December 2022
between 22-31 December 20225 January 2023

In case no further questions are received, no updated documents will be uploaded.