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Lacuna Fund provides data scientists, researchers, and social entrepreneurs with the resources they need to either produce new labeled datasets to address an underserved population or problem, augment existing datasets to be more representative, or update old datasets to be more sustainable. All datasets produced will be locally developed and owned, and they will be openly accessible to the international community while adhering to best practices regarding ethics and privacy.

Application

You can review a copy of RFP questions, including the prompt for the narrative portion of the proposal, under each RFP. When an RFP is open, proposals are accepted through the application portal.

Eligibility

Lacuna Fund aims to make its funding accessible to as many organizations as possible in the AI for social good space and cultivate capacity and emerging organizations in the field.  

To be eligible for funding, organizations must: 

  • Be either a non-profit entity, research institution, for-profit social enterprise, or a team of such organizations. Individuals must apply through an institutional sponsor. Partnerships are welcome but only the lead applicant will receive funds.
  • Have a mission supporting societal good, broadly defined.  
  • Have all necessary national or other approvals to conduct proposed research. The approval process may be conducted in parallel with grant application, if necessary. Approval costs, if any, are the responsibility of the applicant. 
  • Have the technical capacity to conduct dataset labeling, creation, expansion, and/or maintenance. 
  • Be sufficiently stable to ensure the sustainability of the dataset or have arrangements with an organization of sufficient stability. 

Selection Process

Lacuna Fund uses an open solicitation process, conducting requests for proposals (RFPs) for projects aligned with Fund goals in a particular domain on a fixed timeframe. In other words, we are not accepting proposals for every domain at all times, but when we are, solicitations are open to any applicant who meets the eligibility criteria. 

Initial screen: RFPs are generally open for 45 days or more. Proposals are submitted through an online portal. After the conclusion of an RFP, the Secretariat and partners perform an initial screen for qualifications and eligibility criteria.  

Panel review: Following the initial screen, a Technical Advisory Panel of domain experts review proposals based on selection criteria, then meet to make selections. Technical Advisory Panel members who review proposals for an RFP are not eligible to submit or collaborate on proposals for that call 

Notification and revisions: After the Technical Advisory Panel meets, the Secretariat will finalize selections or communicate any needed revisions to potential recipients. All communication and revisions will be finalized through the applicant portal.  

Post-award confirmationUpon notification of selection, recipients will be prompted to submit due diligence and financial information through the applicant portal. 

Potential grantees should not begin work until a contract has been signed. More details on expectations and support after a grantee begins work are available through the portal for current grantees. 

Open Funding Opportunities

If an open funding opportunity below does not match your substantive focus, please join our mailing list at the bottom of this page to receive updates as new EOIs/RFPs are released.

19 October 2021 – 1 December 2021

Expressions of Interest: Training and Evaluation Datasets for African Languages

Lacuna Fund seeks Expressions of Interest (EOI) from organizations interested in developing training and evaluation datasets for African languages.

A full copy of the EOI solicitation, including more details on potential areas of funding, eligibility, and selection criteria, can be found here.

Applications are accepted through the application portal here.

** New for this round ** Mentorship and Collaboration Programs

In collaboration with Masakhane, Lacuna Fund invites interested applicants to register to be paired with a mentor to receive guidance and support in preparing an Expression of Interest for this call.

Express interest in receiving mentorship here!

Do you have experience preparing research proposals, and are you able to mentor a prospective applicant? Let us know here.

Timeline:
  • EOI Call Posted Publicly on Lacuna Fund Website: 19 October 2021
  • Question and Answer Deadline: 2 November 2021
  • Answers Posted: 9 November 2021
  • Expressions of Interest Due: 1 December 2021

Question and Answer Period: All questions related to the EOI should be submitted to secretariat@lacunafund.org with “Language RFP 2021 Question” in the subject line. Questions submitted by 2 November will be de-identified and answered publicly by 9 November on the Lacuna Fund website in a document posted on this page.

(November 9, 2021) Please see the Q&A here.

Please note that for this EOI, lead applicants must be headquartered in or have a substantial partnership in sub-Saharan Africa.

Past Funding Opportunities

All past Funding Opportunities can be found here.

Focus Areas

The Steering Committee of Lacuna Fund: Our Voice on Data has identified the following areas as domains where a lack of labeled training data limits the potential of machine learning or presents the risk of bias or inequity.

Agriculture

Enabling new and more robust AI applications through remote sensing and other critical datasets.

Language

Translation, speech recognition, and other datasets to enable the promise of digital communication for all.

Health

Improving the robustness and availability of AI solutions in healthcare through datasets across the value chain.