Harnessing the Power of Data:

Inclusive Growth and Recovery Challenge Impact Report

About the Inclusive Growth and Recovery Challenge

With generous support from the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and The Rockefeller Foundation, data.org issued an open call in May 2020 for breakthrough ideas that harness the power of data to help people and communities rebound and remain resilient in the wake of COVID-19 and its economic impact.

Through the Inclusive Growth and Recovery Challenge, data.org sought to address a systemic issue: the majority of social initiatives don’t have the budget, staff, capacity, or partnerships to take full advantage of our current data revolution. But with support, mission-driven organizations can use data, tools, and methods to make their work go further and faster, helping more people.

After thorough review, we awarded $10 million in funding and technical assistance across eight exemplary awardees from a pool of over 1,200 applications, and the Paul Ramsay Foundation funded a ninth project. These awardees show the range of opportunities that exist to use data to drive social impact for workers, entrepreneurs, and communities. 

There is tremendous potential for these projects to scale to new geographies, as well as inform similar projects across the world. 

In fact, as you’ll see highlighted in this report, many already have expanded to new countries and received additional funding. And this is only the beginning — these awardees will go even further in the months and years to come, scaling and replicating their solutions around the world. We are heartened by the innovative thinking of these leaders to implement programs and policies to lift up all segments of society. data.org is committed to continuing to support, fund, and amplify such visionary — but also practical — projects that fundamentally and positively impact and encourage resilient communities.

The Challenge

By the Numbers

  • 1,263


  • 400

    volunteer Challenge judges

  • +$10M

    distributed to 9 awardees

  • 22

    products launched

  • 12

    countries initally impacted through awardee projects

  • 5

    projects scaled or replicated in new countries

  • 8

    organizations secured additional funding

  • +$30.8M

    raised in direct follow-on funding

BUILD – Aalborg University

Mapping the Regional Quality of Life

BUILD has provided public authorities and decision-makers in Denmark with tools to compare areas and identify those with less local economic opportunity.

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Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE)

Your Virtual Cold Chain Assistant

To increase the percentage of food supplies saved and support smallholder farmers who make up the bulk of India’s hungry and poor, BASE and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) created Coldtivate, an open access, data science-based mobile application that uses machine learning and physics-based food modeling.

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Community Lattice

Environmental Risk Model for Revitalization

Utilizing the 25-years of historical brownfields clean-up data in the US with environmental records and economic data, Community Lattice created two tools to understand environmental uncertainty and financial risk associated with brownfields redevelopment.

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Fundación Capital, UX, and Data Elevates

Use of Business Intelligence for Informal Workers

Fundación Capital, UX Information Technologies, and Data Elevates are amplifying Biscate’s impact through data mining, visualization techniques, and a data-powered recommendation system to deliver real-time labor market insights directly to informal workers, helping to increase their job opportunities and potential income.

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GiveDirectly and Center for Effective Global Action

Using Data Science to Target Cash Transfers for COVID-19 Relief

GiveDirectly and the Center for Effective Global Action at UC Berkeley (CEGA), together with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), developed a new model for targeting humanitarian support that enables cash transfers to be targeted effectively, accurately, and at scale to those who need them most.

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Solar Sister

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs with Data Science

Solar Sister launched Empowering Women Entrepreneurs with Data Science, a collaboration with Fraym. Through this partnership, data scientists at Fraym worked closely with Solar Sister to provide insights on where potential customers and potential entrepreneurs may live.

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The University of Chicago

Mapping and Mitigating the Urban Digital Divide

The University of Chicago Data Science Institute Internet Equity Initiative team took hyper-local decisions and used them to inform an open-source toolkit and public maps and dashboards on internet access and equity for cities and states across the US.

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Women’s World Banking

Making Data Work for Women: Innovative AI for Women’s Financial Inclusion

Women’s World Banking, in partnership with the University of Zurich, explored the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) based modeling and credit scoring on women’s financial inclusion in Colombia, India, and Mexico.

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The University of Melbourne

A Fair Day’s Work: Detecting Wage Theft with Data

The University of Melbourne has taken a multi-pronged approach to support young people at risk of wage theft while also providing data for regulators, policymakers, and businesses to drive system change.

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Harnessing the Power of Data:

Inclusive Growth and Recovery Challenge Impact Report

Download the report

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