Technology

Aspen Tech Policy Hub Expands Reach with Support From Five Leading Foundations

October 7, 2020  • Aspen Digital

With $2M in new philanthropic funding, the policy incubator increases fellowship numbers, grows online support during the pandemic

Contact: Aspen Tech Policy Hub/Aspen Digital; Carner Derron (Carner.Derron@aspeninstitute.org)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif  — The Aspen Tech Policy Hub is excited to announce that it has received more than $2 million in support from five of the nation’s leading philanthropic organizations: Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Ford Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Omidyar Network, and Schmidt Futures

The Aspen Tech Policy Hub fellowship trains technologists on how to have policy impact. These grants will help the West Coast policy incubator expand its reach and address many of the racial justice, health, and other critical issues facing the country this year. 

“As a 1950s-style nerd, I believe tech can serve the public interest – but it needs to partner with good-faith policy to make an impact.” said Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies. “I’ve backed the Tech Policy Hub since its beginning, and have renewed my support once again, because they train a diverse and innovative set of tech-builders to make policy products that meet real needs.”

With this new support, the Hub is planning additional cohorts for 2021, partnering with other nonprofits to build new training programs, and growing its open-source and online offerings to support technologists during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In a moment of public health crisis and in an election year, we are delighted to support the Tech Policy Hub as a key piece of infrastructure to support public interest technology. The development of pathways for talent and ideas to cross sectors is a critical mechanism, and the Hub is uniquely well positioned to deploy valuable public interest programming, with a network that stretches across disciplines, industries, and career pathways.” said Jenny Toomey, the Ford Foundation’s International Program Director for Technology and Society.

Since launching in early 2019, the Hub has trained 30 fellows and released more than 20 projects at the intersection of technology, policy, and society. Hub fellows have gone onto lead New York City’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, founded and run COVID-19 initiatives such as the US Digital Response, and have testified before Congress and state Commissions. Hub fellows have also achieved significant policy wins, for instance partnering with the Cybercrime Support Network to create a single, easy-to-use system to report online fraud and cybercrime.

“From unemployment benefits to contact-tracing, this pandemic has proven what we at the Hub already knew: we need smart, technology-informed policymaking,” said Betsy Cooper, Director of the Aspen Tech Policy Hub. “The generous support from these funders will enable us to more effectively train the next generation of tech policy entrepreneurs, and help get these new voices into the ecosystem quickly so that they can be heard.” 

For more information about the Aspen Tech Policy Hub, please visit its website

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The Aspen Tech Policy Hub is a West Coast policy incubator, training a new generation of tech policy entrepreneurs. The Hub takes tech experts, teaches them the policy process through an in-residence fellowship program in the Bay Area, and encourages them to develop outside-the-box solutions to society’s problems. It models itself after tech incubators like Y Combinator, but trains new policy thinkers and focuses the impact of their ideas. For more information, please visit https://www.aspentechpolicyhub.org.

The Aspen Tech Policy Hub is an initiative of Aspen Digital, a program of the Aspen Institute that empowers policy makers, civic organizations, companies, and the public to be responsible stewards of technology and digital media in the service of a more just and equitable world. The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.