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16 February 2023 Story on Lacuna Fund Impact

The Lacuna Fund team recently spoke with about the impact of our collaborative approach to filling gaps in ML datasets to make AI applications more representative, equitable, and accessible for all. We are excited to share our interview with that has been featured as one of their Impact Stories. Beyond exploring the origins of Lacuna Fund and its purpose, the story focuses on our first call for proposals – agricultural datasets in Sub-Saharan Africa – and how some of the resulting datasets are being used to increase agricultural productivity. Lacuna Fund Project Director Jennifer Pratt Miles, Project Associate Emma Heth, Lilly Waithaka from ACRE Africa, and Collins Udanor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka participated in the interview.

Lacuna Fund’s work on agricultural machine learning datasets is made possible by support from The Rockefeller FoundationGoogle.orgCanada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and GIZ’s FAIR Forward – Artificial Intelligence for All, a program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

We are grateful to for sharing our story and impact of our work. We hope you read and share the story widely!

Upcoming Request for Proposals: 
Sexual, Reproductive and Maternal Health and Rights and Climate and Forests

Lacuna Fund is issuing two new calls for proposals in early March to build more equitable and accessible machine learning datasets. We will be inviting proposals to develop datasets in two domains:   

  • Sexual, Reproductive and Maternal Health and Rights (SRMHR) 
  • Climate and Forests (C&F) 

Lacuna Fund offers data scientists, researchers, and social entrepreneurs the opportunity to produce new datasets to address an underserved population or problem, augment existing datasets to be more representative, or update old datasets to be more sustainable.

Lacuna Fund selects its grantees through requests for proposals. We accept applications from non-profit entities, research institutions, for-profit social enterprises, or teams of such organizations. Organizations seeking to apply should have the technical capacity to conduct dataset labeling, creation, expansion, and/or maintenance.

One requirement of applicants is that the datasets are locally developed and owned. We believe that local researchers need to create this data and see it through to implementation because that is where the greatest potential for systemic change lies. Datasets will also be openly accessible to the international community while adhering to best practices regarding ethics and privacy. To learn more about the eligibility, the general selection process, or to view past RFPs, visit the Lacuna Fund Apply page.

For those interested in the upcoming C&F or SRMHR RFPs, we will announce the release of those materials and the opening of the application in March via this newsletter, as well as on our website and on social media.

Meet Our 2023 Steering Committee!

Lacuna Fund’s Steering Committee is a group of technical experts, users, data beneficiaries, and funders who guide strategy, domains, selection criteria, and more for the Fund. The Committee meets twice per year, either virtually or in-person. Members come from around the globe and represent various technical backgrounds to provide perspectives on open data, specific domain areas, machine learning, ethics, law, philanthropy, and more.

In 2023, Lacuna Fund’s Steering Committee members are: 

  • Renata Ávila, Open Knowledge Foundation
  • Tania Bedrax-Weiss, Google
  • Teki Akuetteh Falconer, Africa Digital Rights Hub
  • Shikoh Gitau, Qhala
  • Vukosi Marivate, University of Pretoria and Data Science for Social Impact Research Group
  • Matthew Smith, Canada’s International Development Research Centre
  • Balthas Seibold, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Lacuna Fund is fortunate to have the guidance and expertise of this excellent group! Read more about these individuals on Lacuna Fund’s Steering Committee page.