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Microsoft, data.org launch Generative AI Skills grant for social impact organizations

Data.org, in collaboration with Microsoft, has initiated the Generative AI Skills Challenge, a global grant program designed to educate and enhance the capabilities of teams in generative AI with the ultimate goal of creating a positive societal impact 

The Challenge’s primary objective is to promote digital inclusion, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and environments by emphasizing equitable and community-driven integration. By doing so, the initiative aims to accelerate digital inclusion, enhance socioeconomic mobility, and facilitate the development of skills for workers. 

Microsoft will be providing funding for the Generative AI Skills Grant Challenge, and multiple organizations are expected to receive awards as part of this initiative. 

Entries will be judged based on the following criteria: 

  • Digital Inclusion 
  • Public Good 
  • Localism and IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and access) 
  • Responsible Use 
  • Originality 
  • Feasibility 
  • Technical Relevance 
  • Organizational Capacity 
  • Network / Ecosystem 
  • Technical Considerations 
  • Scalability 

In a document seen by NewsTimes, winners of the Challenge will be awarded cash grants, cloud computing resources, and expert guidance from Microsoft AI specialists. Additionally, they will undergo data training, with all these benefits amounting to a total value of USD 250,000. 

Distinguished professionals in the field of social sector skill development and experts knowledgeable about the influence of emerging technologies, including generative AI, will be responsible for evaluating the applications submitted for the Challenge. 

The impact of Generative AI 

According to the Executive Director of data.org, Danil Mikhailov, “Generative AI has the potential to revolutionize how we tackle global challenges thanks to its unparalleled ability to scale — but only if applied with awareness of its limitations and a strong emphasis on community-led solutions informed by local context”. 

  • “That’s why we are pleased to partner with Microsoft to help upskill and reskill the social impact workforce using generative AI effectively and responsibly”. 
  • “Together, we are taking a significant stride towards fulfilling data.org’s commitment to training one million purpose-driven data practitioners by 2032”.

A foundational objective of the Challenge is to ensure that AI responsibly serves the public good. The Challenge Design Philosophy outlines key considerations used to guide the application design and selection judging processes of the Challenge. 

Who is eligible? 

Submissions are welcome from the following: 

  • Nonprofit organizations, social enterprises, and academic/research institutions committed to establishing upskilling opportunities in generative AI 
  • Organizations with a well-established technical background and those with innovative and region-specific concepts for advancing the workforce and bridging the digital gap through generative AI. 

Application information  

Applicants can send their application here before thedeadline on August 15, 2023. 

Applicants will be selected based on criteria of assessment, evaluation and selection which will be available to the wider community as data.org and Microsoft have pledged to do so. 

The grant period will be 7-8 months. Awardees will be announced in November 2023, and projects will conclude by the end of June 2024.   

 

 

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