SIPA Dean's Public Policy Challenge Grant
Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs seeks proposals from students for innovative projects that use digital technology and data to improve the global urban environment.
Information and communications technology (ICTs) and data have helped many cities become more responsive; more prosperous and sustainable; safer; better governed, better educated, and healthier. There is no question that new and innovative approaches to using digital technology and data can be devised to solve urban problems.
The Public Policy Grant Program of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) invites students to form teams to propose student-designed projects and prototypes that use ICTs and/or data analytics to solve global policy problems. Solutions may be market-based, public/philanthropic supported, or a mix. The Program encourages the formation of teams that integrate students of public policy, computer science, engineering and other fields across Columbia University. All teams must include at least one SIPA student in a substantive role.
The Program’s goal is to identify and support projects that have a high potential to be implemented and produce a meaningful impact on the target problem in relatively near term.
The Program will conduct four competitions. Each competition is composed of 3 rounds with the same process, focus, and judging criteria — but different timelines. A total of $50,000 will be awarded to two or three winning teams from each competition.
SIPA students and their peers from across Columbia have the ability to design breakthrough approaches such as the following:
New York City’s Office of Policy and Strategic Planning
As the New York Times put it, the Office “leveraged the power of computers to double the city’s hit rate in finding stores selling bootleg cigarettes; sped the removal of trees destroyed by Hurricane Sandy; and helped steer overburdened housing inspectors — working with more than 20,000 options — directly to lawbreaking buildings where catastrophic fires were likeliest to occur.
Digital Participatory Budgeting
The city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil has used participatory budgeting for years to allow citizens to engage in the decision-making process of local budgetary expenditures. Belo Horizonte introduced an e-Budgeting platform that increased participation seven-fold – to nearly 10% of its population of 1.7 million voters.
By their fourth birthday, children who grow up in low-income households will have heard 30 million fewer words than their middle- and high-income peers. Research shows that this is the single greatest predictor of academic outcomes. The city of Providence, Rhode Island, won the 2012-2013 Mayors’ Challenge with “Providence Talks.” Using a small recording device and proven technology, the program measures word exposure for children (infants through four-year-olds) and delivers coaching and tools that help their parents close the word gap.
Social Innovation Mapping: Social Entrepreneurs Changing Lives Through ICT
ICT is being used by social entrepreneurs to help them succeed in a rapidly changing world. This Ashoka report identifies key challenges that need to be tackled in order to unlock the full power of ICT for social good, and it highlights opportunities for technologiests to become changemakers.
What inspires you?
We want to hear from you! Please share ICT or analytics projects that are already making an impact on urban policy and beyond.
Start-up funding for the Challenge Grant Program has been provided by various friends including the Rockefeller Foundation and Juan Navarro (founder, Chair and CEO of The Exxel Group; member SIPA Advisory Board). Training support for the Challenge Grant Program has been provided by General Assembly (the New York City-based tech and entrepreneurship education firm).
The SIPA Public Policy Challenge Grant Program is produced in collaboration with Columbia Entrepreneurship.