The Humanitarian Data Scientist: Data for Good Volunteer Opportunities

Aspiring data scientists are known for utilizing their free time to work on interesting side projects, and it seems like there is a side project for everyone. I began wondering if there was a way to conduct a side project while also contributing to impact-driven projects that could make a difference. While searching for opportunities to be involved with local communities directly or pull publicly available data, I found many organizations that help facilitate this process with other like-minded individuals. I am excited to share three different organizations that can make it easy to volunteer your time to a good missionbuild your data science skills, and network with like-minded professionals both locally and globally.

  1. DataKind

Launched in 2012, DataKind has been a leader of the Data Science and AI for Good movement. Over the past 10 years, they have completed more than 350 projects and facilitated 35 million dollars worth of pro bono work serving high-impact organizations.

With DataKind, you can volunteer 

  • a few hours at local community events, including quick consultations and networking with other professionals.
  • an entire weekend at a DataDive marathon style event to help with initial data analysis, exploration, and prototyping.
  • a few months via the DataCorps program, which is a long-term engagement that help organizations use data science to transform their work and sector. 

You can apply to volunteer if you have skills in data science, statistics, coding, data engineering, data visualization, project management, event planning and coordinating, or guest blogging or speaking.

Find more details and apply here:  

2. DSSG (Data Science for Social Good) Solve

Solve for Good is a platform where organizations can post problems that need data-intensive help so that volunteers can help scope the problems into a project and solve them. 

DSSG Solve is different than DataKind in that once you have an account you can search for projects that are in the staffing phase and apply to volunteer for specific projects. 

Find more details and apply here:

3. Code for America Brigades

If you are hoping for a more local volunteer opportunity, look no further! Brigades are local volunteer groups that collaborate with local government and community partners to build tools to help with local civic problems. There are 127 brigades in the U.S. with 5 brigades in North Carolina.

First off, no need to apply to be a part of this effort. Just show up! The Durham brigade looks for data analyst among many other skill sets, focusing on areas such as health, safety and justice, economic development, and communications and engagement.

Find more details here:

Details on the local Durham chapter:

Many social-good-mission-driven organizations have fallen behind in terms of their utilization of new analytic technologies due to a lack of resources and funding. However, many of these organizations are trying to solve global problems in sectors such as health, the environment, education, economic development, and social services. While full-time data scientist positions that support ‘data for good’ may be difficult to come by, there are still many opportunities to flex your data skills for a good cause. These three organizations are only a few examples of the plethora of volunteer opportunities I found for aspiring and established data scientists alike. Let’s use our in-demand skills for good!

Columnist: Jane Williford