Questions & Answers

Get answers to the most frequently asked questions and contact us with your questions.


What is the Future of Data Challenge?

Launched by the Omidyar Network in partnership with Carrot, the Future of Data Challenge awards a total of $1.1 million to up to ten transformative solutions that will reimagine the data economy and support a more equitable data future for all. Strong solutions will be focused on one or more of the following areas: Activism & Awareness, Evidence, Design & Technology, and Governance & Policy.


Who can participate?

Applicants from around the world are eligible to apply. Each applicant must identify an eligible Lead Organization as the recognized agency in the execution of any proposed solution. Eligible Lead Organizations include:

  • Any company or business, either privately held or publicly traded, for which the entity can provide evidence of good standing in all relevant and governing jurisdictions.
  • An entity that is recognized under the law of the applicable jurisdiction as a non-governmental organization, a charitable organization, a social welfare organization, a not-for-profit organization, or similar-type entity that is not a for-profit organization or government agency.
  • An entity organized under the laws of the applicable jurisdiction which has received a tax determination letter from the IRS or has been determined to be the equivalent of a section 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) or (2) organization by NGO Source for which an equivalency determination has not expired and would be in effect or could extended through the date of the project to be supported.
  • A nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) or (2) of the Internal Revenue Code ("IRC") that has received a tax determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS").
  • A private foundation under section 501(c)(3) of the IRC that has received a tax determination letter from the IRS.

Eligible organizations are welcome to collaborate with for-profit companies, foundations, schools, colleges and universities, government agencies, individuals, and other entities in order to implement the solution.  

Neither individuals, government agencies, nor The Omidyar Group-affiliated* individuals or organizations are eligible to benefit monetarily from the Future of Data Challenge nor to be the Lead Organization for any Applicant. *Organizations receiving current or past funding from Omidyar Network may apply with projects that represent significantly different concepts – Future of Data Challenge funding may not be used for operations and/or activities currently funded by Omidyar Network.

Use the Organizational Readiness Tool to find out if you’re a good fit for the Challenge, refer to the Rules for a complete set of eligibility requirements, and please contact us with any competition-related questions.


What types of projects are you looking for?

The Future of Data Challenge is seeking solutions designed to reimagine how we think and talk about data, activating a more equitable data economy and unlocking data’s value for all.

Proposed projects will demonstrate impact over a two-year project period. Strong solutions will be:

Transformative: Has a powerful vision to shift the value of data to benefit all. Well-positioned to establish best practices and a valuable model that bolsters other efforts and can be replicated at scale.

Equitable: Actively seeks to remedy harm done or has an explicit social justice mission. Powerful strategy with long-standing partnerships to impact underserved and exploited populations.  

Feasible: Offers rigorous plans designed to break down barriers and exceed expectations. Activates an accomplished team of experts with a strong track record and valuable partners.

Innovative: Features a groundbreaking solution with authentic community relationships. Advanced thinking with an exciting vision for transformational change benefiting communities around the world.


What do you consider transformative, equitable, feasible, and innovative, and how might these criteria be evaluated?

Each of the traits – Transformative, Equitable, Feasible, and Innovative – are detailed in our scoring rubric on the competition website. We strongly encourage you to review all of the prompts and scoring range definitions for each trait to learn more about how we define a strong application.


How do I apply?

Here are the steps to participate:

  1. Assess your fit and eligibility for the Future of Data Challenge.
  1. Register no later than Thursday, August 25, 2022 at 3:00 PM Pacific Time. Registration is required and is a simple two-step process. First, create a username and password, then check your inbox to confirm your registration. Next, complete the online registration form.
  1. Once you are registered, submit your application online no later than Tuesday, September 20, 2022 at 3:00 PM Pacific Time. Please note: This deadline has been extended from the original deadline of September 15, 2022.

An organization can submit only one application as the Lead Organization. An organization can also serve as a partner on a team for multiple applications provided that each application proposes a separate, distinct solution. Regional or location-specific branches of larger organizations, as well as departments, schools, and nonprofits within or based in a college/university, can each register and submit separately as the Lead Organization on one application as long as the proposed solutions are different and separate. There should be no overlap in team members. The intent of the policy is to ensure that any team is concentrating their best effort into a single application. We encourage teams to select a single project that best represents your organization's ability to deliver a solution that meets the scoring criteria.


How will submissions be assessed?

Once the submission deadline passes, the Future of Data Challenge team (comprised of team members from Omidyar Network and Carrot) will perform an administrative review to confirm each submission meets the rules and application requirements before advancing to the required Peer-to-Peer Review.

During Peer-to-Peer Review, each Lead Organization will be required to score and comment on five applications from other organizations. Top-scoring applications will move on to the Evaluation Panel and receive an additional review and comments from five judges. All reviewers will use the scoring rubric, and all scores will be statistically normalized to ensure fairness.

The Selection Committee will review the top-scoring submissions and request additional information as needed to recommend up to ten winners based on considerations that may include, but are not limited to, Evaluation Panel resulting rank order, diversity of solution type, organizational capacity, geographic diversity, and feasibility. The Selection Committee will make the final recommendation for winners of the $100,000 awards. In addition, up to five additional promising solutions will be awarded $20,000 each.


How specific or detailed do the metrics/KPIs need to be?

Specificity is a marker of a strong application. Variation in the metrics is expected across solution areas. For example: a campaign could consider estimated audience reach; a tech-based solution could consider the number of monthly active users; a government or policy-based solution could consider feedback from stakeholders regarding the impact of the solution across communities.


What do you consider to be sufficient evidence of effectiveness for projects/products/services that are still in initial phases and for which there are no past data-points?

We understand that some applicants may be in the early stages of their proposal or pilot, and we strongly suggest including as much evidence and data as possible. In the case that it is an early-stage proposal where a proof of concept has not been fully developed or tested, then data on how a similar project or strategy has worked would be useful to include. However, if there have been pilots or the solution has been tested, any evidence that can be provided in the form of both quantitative and qualitative data would be useful in the application. If the proposed solution is a novel idea, we will consider the strength of hypothesis, rationale, and the logic of the idea.


Does your conception of the "data economy" include public sector or community-collected/managed data, or data collected or managed by private sector businesses?

Both public and private sector data can be included.


Are you looking for large scale solutions in terms of the number of people impacted or geographical regions?

We will award up to 10 winners with the goal of supporting a range of impactful solutions that are operationally and politically feasible and have a potential for impact. There is no boundary on the size of the solution, nor the number of people impacted.


What are other requirements of participation?

In addition to submitting a completed application, eligible applicants will be required to review and provide feedback on five other proposals submitted by their peers. This will take roughly 4-5 hours over a period of two weeks beginning in mid-October. Additional resources and training will be provided, and more information is available on the timeline and evaluation pages.


How can we use funding from the Future of Data Challenge?

Award funds must be used for the proposed solution for which they are intended, and may not be used:

  • To influence the outcome of any specific public election or to carry on, directly or indirectly, any voter registration drive (within the meaning of United States Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) section 4945(d)(2));  
  • To distribute funds to any organization not identified in the proposal;  
  • For the creation of any endowment or for the aggregation of philanthropic capital;  
  • For the creation of a venture capital fund, or pooled funds to invest in or distribute to for-profit organizations;  
  • For loans or microloans to individuals, nonprofit, or for-profit entities;  
  • For services provided by government.  

Funds may be dispersed from a Lead Organization to other partners to implement the proposed solution, and not for general funds used for broader purposes. In some cases, up to 10% of the $100,000 award may be used toward overhead/indirect/general operating costs related to implementing the proposed solution.


Are overhead/indirect costs allowed?

While we expect award funding to go toward direct costs, applicants may include up to 10% of the $100,000 award for indirect/general operating costs necessary to implement the proposed solution. 

Expert reviewers will strongly consider the budget section of the application as it relates to feasibility and the ratio between direct and overhead costs. Please review the scoring rubric to learn more about how we define a strong solution. 

Please note: This final budget - including any indirect costs - will be negotiated as part of the final award agreement that each winner will have with Omidyar Network.


In the application: What is expected from the Project Visual question?

Applicants are welcome to use any visual to describe your idea. For example, you may use schematics, mock-ups of a user interface, diagrams, flow charts, organizational charts, graphs, images and other visual elements that would help further illustrate your proposed solution.


What are the reporting requirements if we are successful in securing the grant?

Grant agreements will be drawn up between the award sponsor and each of the award winners, and this will include the requirement of a single report of funds and a narrative statement covering the project’s outputs and outcomes. Please review our sample agreement in the Rules under Section 6. Award Agreement or from the Application under Section J. Additional Information. Please note: The information listed in Section J of the application are not required at this time – this is included for your reference and will be collected from those who move on to later stages of the competition.


If there are a number of partners in the application, what evidence do you require to show that the partnership is established?

We leave this up to each applicant to demonstrate using the narrative responses within the application. Documentation like letters of support or a fully executed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) are not required at this time, but may be collected from those who move on to later stages of the competition.

Questions & answers

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