Txt2Wrk, an Apps for Communities prize-winner which helps people with limited Internet access find jobs, is cited in a new report as an example of funding mobile projects for impact.
A new white paper on funding mobile projects seeks to ramp up the conversation among funders as to how they can best support non-profits using technology to achieve their missions. The focus is on mobile by and for underserved communities in the U.S. and suggests ways for funders to strengthen the quality and quantity of support for these efforts.
It features several Knight Foundation approaches to grantmaking, including its Community Information Challenge, which engages community and place-based foundations in playing leading roles in meeting the information needs of their communities.
“Funding Mobile Strategies for Social Impact: The Future is Now” is released by ZeroDivide, which works to transform underserved communities through the use of technology. Its 2011 research found a lack of philanthropic investment in mobile strategies for community change. Despite examples of impact and the widespread availability of cell phones (it estimates 87% of the world’s population are now mobile phone users), most funders were unaware of mobile strategies or unclear about how to invest in them.
The paper highlights the “Circuit Rider” program of the Knight Community Information Challenge, which makes tech experts available to help community and place-based foundations think through their proposals to meet local information needs. According to the report, fostering strong ties with technologists is one of the keys to the success for projects.
Another key to the success for mobile projects is to focus on hackathons, the report says. For example, a team of hackers who first met and worked together at Code for Oakland went on to win a prize from the national Apps for Communities contest. Supported by Knight Foundation and the FCC, the contest looked for the best software applications, or apps, that deliver personalized information to people least likely to be online. The app created by the team, Txt2Wrk, helps people with limited Internet access find jobs.
The report also focuses on the importance of collaboration among mobile news and information projects, citing the 83 community and place-based foundations that have co-funded new media projects as a result of the Knight’s Community Information Challenge’s requirement of finding matching funds. The report concludes that “mobile presents a strong opportunity for funders with similar geographic or programmatic focus to collaborate.”
Next week, Knight’s Director of Journalism and Media Innovation, John Bracken, will participate in a panel discussion intended further the conversation at the Council on Foundation’s annual conference in L.A.
Zero Divide will host “The Future is Mobile” at 10 a.m. PST Monday, April 30. The conversation will feature both funders of mobile projects and practitioners who will provide hands-on demos, including two Knight grantees, VotoLatino and Safecast.
A future webinar for funders interested in funding mobile for impact is scheduled for 10 a.m. PST May 22.