Launched in 2019, the Public Interest Technology University Network is a partnership that unites colleges and universities committed to building the nascent field of public interest technology and growing a new generation of civic-minded technologists. Through the development of curricula, research agendas, and experiential learning programs in the public interest technology space, these institutions aim to develop graduates with skills and knowledge at the intersection of technology and policy.

Ends on This opportunity will close after 120 submissions have been received.

Estimated Number of Awards

In 2025 we anticipate supporting multiple institutions from across PIT-UN to host Tech for Change Hackathons. For the third year of the Tech for Change Hackathon, we anticipate supporting 3-5 Tech for Change Hackathons from across PIT-UN. We will be selecting and supporting PIT-UN member institutions that have experience in hosting hackathons or co-hosting a hackathon but have not hosted or co-hosted a Tech for Change Hackathon.

PIT-UN seeks Tech for Change Hackathons that clearly define topical and relevant public interest technology focuses such as:

  • Health care
  • Elections
  • Bias (racial or gender)
  • Education
  • Alternative methods for internet access

Eligibility

Eligibility is limited to PIT-UN member institutions that have not previously hosted or co-hosted a PIT-UN Tech for Change Hackathon. 

Projects that are a partnership between two or more universities should submit a single application from the lead institution. Projects should explain the nature of the partnership, including the division of labor and funds in the proposal.

Please follow your institutions process for submitting responses to RFPs. Typically, each PIT-UN member has identified one point of contact for submitting all grant applications for their institutions and should be accessing the online grant platform. If you do not know who your PIT-UN member Network Challenge point of contact is, get in touch with your institution’s PIT-UN designee.

Ends on This opportunity will close after 30 submissions have been received.

Overview

In the 1960s and 1970s, landmark investments from the philanthropic community elevated the legal profession from a road to wealth and power to a transformational force in serving the public good. With the support of the Ford Foundation and other philanthropies, institutions of higher learning created paths that allowed the brightest minds of the era to find their footing in public service. That leadership allowed the discipline of public interest law to flourish as a prestigious area of study and a formal field of practice. 

Similarly, institutions of higher learning are now coming together to integrate the fields of technology, public policy, business, law, ethics, governance, and social justice into the field of public interest technology. Public interest technology refers to the study and application of technology expertise to advance the public interest in a way that generates public benefits and promotes the public good, particularly for those who are least well served historically and today because of existing systems and policies. Importantly, it includes individuals who approach these questions from a technological background, those with lived experience and expertise, and those from other disciplines (including law and social science and movement-building) seeking to understand, use, and respond to the changes enabled by new technologies.
 

It can — and should — also include people who may not identify as technologists but are at the forefront of equalizing access to technology and promoting inclusive tech policy. This includes those working in the ecosystems of access, open source and creative commons, digital literacy, inclusive design, movement and activist tech, community tech, and digital privacy and security. By offering a systematic way of studying technology as a tool for addressing social problems in the world — among them unforeseen and adverse consequences of technology (in particular concerning historically underserved and underrepresented and marginalized groups) and ways to harmonize technology and society — educational institutions can train a new generation of graduates who have both technological literacy and a rigorous foundation to navigate the societal, ethical, legal, policy, and equity implications of the new age.

Timelines

  • July  2024 - The online application portal opens in August and remains open through August 15, 2024.
  • August 15, at 8:00 pm EDT—The application deadline. All application materials must be submitted by this date and time.
  • Late August finalists are invited for virtual interviews with the evaluation committee. 
  • Early September winners are notified. 
  • September 23, 2024: The cohort of Tech for Change Scholarship recipients is publicly announced and invited to the NetApp event in Las Vegas, NV. Attendance at the NetApp event is required for all selected finalists. The program will cover all expenses associated with the selection process (travel to the event, lodging, food, etc.). 

The Public Interest Tech for Change Scholarship application has 3 different phases of the application process.

Application

The Tech for Change scholarship application has two distinct phases in the scholarship process.

Phase One: Written Application

All candidates must complete a written portion  of the application including requesting two Letters of Recommendation (LOR).

  • Letters of Recommendations--Within the application form there are two fields to generate an email requesting a (LOR)—Candidates complete a form for each recommender. Letters of Recommendations can be from academic or professional references. They should come from people who know the candidate well and can speak to their skills, abilities, and potential. LORs should be signed on official letterhead whenever possible. Once a application is submitted, an email is sent to the recommender.

Phase Two: Final Round Interview

Shortlisted candidates from the written application will advance through the review process which includes a virtual interview with the program administrators. Applicants will complete a 20 minute live interview which completes the scholarship application process. 

All receipts need to be submitted at the same time.

Travel Reimbursement Policy

Terms and Conditions: All flights, up to the lowest-available, most direct, coach class fare (standard economy). We do not intend to make all people fly red-eye flights when flying from one coast to the opposite coast. Up to the lowest available business class fare for international flights (arrives in a different country than that from which it departed) of more than five hours actual flight time, including domestic connecting flights. Baggage fees, which include oversize or overweight bags if the oversize or overweight bags contain NVF equipment/supplies/materials.

Transportation to and from an airport

The cost of the transportation to and from a point of origin of travel falls within the travel expense policy. We expect a reasonable expense and it is the project's discretion if they want to cover this portion.

Complete these forms for Travel Reimbursement 

Materials to submit a request for a Budget Modification 

  • Original NVF Budget Template submitted with the grant application 
  • Complete the Budget Revision Tab in the Template
  • A short paragraph detailing why you need a budget revision.

Material Needed to Complete a Mid-grant Report

  1. The project title as it appears on the original grant application
  2. The total funding request and the total expenses to date
  3. Answers to these questions
  • Please describe what is going well with your project. (300-word limit)
  • Please describe any challenges you are experiencing with your project (300-word limit)
  • In the project application, you were asked to list outcomes and deliverables. As you view your work, are the outcomes and deliverables you listed in your application obtainable? If yes, please describe your progress in obtaining the objectives and deliverables. If not, please share how you would like to revise them. (200-word limit)
  • How can we better support your work? (300-word limit)
  • How can we assist you in highlighting your work inside and outside of your institution? (300-word limit)The requirements for completing the final grant report can be found in Exhibit B of the ratified grant agreement. 

Material Needed to Complete The Final Grant 

  • a copy of the grant agreement 
  • Answers to the Exhibit B questions. (Exhibit B questions are found in the ratified grant agreement). 
  • DEI statistics if you collected that data
  • The original NVF Project Budget Template with the reporting tab filled out. If the finance department has a separate financial sheet you can upload that as well.
  • Any links or copies of specific deliverables or open educational resources.
  • Any links to publications (case studies, reports, papers...) developed out of this work


Material Needed to Complete a Mid-grant Report  

1) Project Summary (300-word limit) Please provide a summary of the status of your project to date. In your narrative of the project, please include:

a. Activities and progress 

b. Institutional issues and/or project challenges 

c. Partner issues or challenges 

2) Progress Toward Objectives & Deliverables (300-word limit) As part of your grant application, you listed expected outcomes and deliverables. Please list the outcomes and deliverables listed in your grant application. a. Of the listed outcomes and deliverables, which, if any, have been accomplished? 

3) Challenges or Lessons Learned (500-word limit) In the listed outcomes and deliverables, what are the challenges in meeting the deliverables outline in the application? 

4) Project Impact (200-word limit) Describe how your project is meaningfully addressing the barriers to equity and access related to Public Interest Technology that you identified in your original grant proposal. Please describe what challenges you experiencing in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion related to your ongoing project. (300-word limit) 

5) Network Impact (300-word limit) Describe how your project is creating shared resources or otherwise strengthening the community of educational institutions committed to Public Interest Technology. (300-word limit) 

6) Institutionalization of PIT (300-word limit) Describe how, if at all, your project will contribute to Public Interest Technology becoming institutionalized within your university (i.e., through committed university funds, support from leadership, or collaboration between departments, faculty, or other groups). If you do not anticipate Public Interest Technology will become institutionalized in the short- or long-term, please explain why. 

7) Budget & Expenses to Date 

a. Total funding request 

b. Total expenses to date 

c. Total In-kind funding propose 

d. Total In-kind funding utilized to date 

e. Please explain any unforeseen expenses or other adjustments you have had to make to your proposed budget. 

f. The Network Challenge Grants have a 16-month grant term, please upload a copy of the grant expenses to date spreadsheet* 

Material Needed to Complete The Final Grant 

The requirements for completing the final grant report can be found in Exhibit B of the ratified grant agreement. 

1) Project Summary (300 words maximum): Please provide a clear and concise statement summarizing the work your institution(s) completed during the duration of the grant period. 

2) Objectives & Activities: (250-word limit) Describe the specific objectives of the project supported by the Challenge. Summarize the activities you engaged in during the grant period to accomplish these objectives, and any progress towards the outcomes or impact that you were hoping to achieve. 

3) Key Drivers of Meeting the Project Objectives: (250-word limit) Were you able to accomplish your objectives, please describe what you saw as the key drivers or enabling conditions of that success. If applicable, please share a specific instance or event that illustrates the impact of your project. 

4) Expected Outcomes: (200-word limit) As part of your grant application, you listed EXPECTED outcomes and deliverables. Please list the original outcomes and deliverables you listed on your grant application. 

5) Achieved Outcomes & Deliverables: (500-word limit) Please list the ACHIEVED (FINAL) outcomes and deliverables here. 

6) Project Impact Statement: (200-word limit) Provide a clear and concise impact statement regarding your work. 

7) Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Number of Participants: (500-word limit) Describe how your project meaningfully addressed the targeted community and the demographics of the project participants compared to the demographics of the larger population. If your project was not able to address said barriers as meaningfully as intended, please describe what challenges you experienced or lessons you learned. What sources of bias was the project subjected to and what mitigation strategies did you employ to generate more equitable outcomes to engage, serve, and collaborate with those populations in ways that are informed by best practices? 

a) Estimate the percentage of non-majority project participants. 

b) Demographic 

8) Lessons Learned and Challenges (500-word limit) In the final outcomes and deliverables you listed above, highlight any challenges, expected or otherwise, or lessons learned throughout the grant period. Describe any adjustments or changes you made to your activities to address challenges as they arose. 

9) Network impact: (300-word limit) Describe how your project created shared resources or otherwise strengthened the community of educational institutions committed to Public Interest Technology. 

10) Institutionalization of Public Interest Technology: (300-word limit) Describe how, if at all, your project will contribute to Public Interest Technology becoming institutionalized within your university (i.e., through committed university funds, support from leadership, or collaboration between departments, faculty, or other groups). If you do not anticipate Public Interest Technology will become institutionalized in the short- or long-term, please explain why. 

11) Attachments: In addition to the report narrative, please submit the following attachments: 

a) Financial report detailing final accounting of budgeted vs. actual expenditures of all grant funding, including the entire project budget and all sources of revenue and expenditures (including grassroots and direct lobbying expenditures, if applicable), in addition to this Grant. 

b) Artifacts and Open Educational Resources (OER): and other artifacts developed with grant funds i) A list of all intellectual property and assets purchased or created with the Grant. 

ii) Any publications or media generated as a result of your project. 

12) Certification: All [GRANTEE NAME] activities were and are consistent with charitable purposes under Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1), (2) or (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and [GRANTEE NAME] complied with all provisions and restrictions contained in this Agreement, including, for example, and without limitation, those provisions related to lobbying and political activity. 

PIT-UN is interested in understanding how you used the Regional Hub Fellow funds and the impact you were able to achieve during the grant period. The Network is equally interested in learning about your successes and challenges, and would like to hear what you learned in the process. Please provide candid, reflective responses 

to the questions below. The information you share will help inform PIT-UN's future strategy and programs. 

As part of the Grant Agreement, you are required to submit a verbal progress via monthly meetings, a short narrative mid-grant report at the second quarter Fellows meeting and all final reports by November 30, 2024. 


A successful PIT Regional Hub should be a collaboration between Principal Investigators and/or Designees of PIT-UN  member institutions, and outreach to regional employers and/or employer organizations, to ensure that the regional opportunities are related to the entire region.

PIT-UN at New America Foundation