Empowering Civic Leaders with Data Skills for the Public Good
The Civic Tech Institute at Equitech Futures empowers leaders in the social sector - governments, nonprofits, and social enterprises - with the data and technology skills critical to achieving impact at scale.
Our project-based curriculum, anchored in cohort-based learning and led by world-class faculty, provides a practical understanding of applied data science and AI across various domains - from public health, climate change to the nature of networked societies.
The Civic Tech Institute is designed for social impact leaders who might not have a STEM background but want to learn how cutting-edge technology tools can be leveraged for the public good.
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Accessible from Anywhere
Equitech Futures is a digital campus for emerging innovators who want to use cutting-edge science and technology tools to tackle societal challenges. We offer live, virtual, project-based courses delivered in small cohorts. We believe that focused mentorship and cross-disciplinary instruction in data science, analytical reasoning, and public communication are critical to building a prosperous and equitable future.
Looking at some of the most intractable social problems of our time - climate change, public health, and networked societies - the Civic Tech Institute cohort will reckon with the context surrounding these problems, existing interventions, and new opportunities to apply data skills to engage collaboration and make a positive impact.
Tools to Accelerate Your Career
The Civic Tech Institute curriculum advances careers in social entrepreneurship, government, policy, non-governmental organizations, and non-profits. Our goal is to provide you with varied perspectives and lenses that will help you make the biggest impact in your chosen field.
"While working toward becoming a mental health researcher, I loved being part of a group of diverse and smart individuals from all over the world who are creating impact in their communities. It made for really enriching conversations."
Sharon Nafuna, Uganda
The Civic Tech Institute (CTI) is designed to teach the technological and community-based tools that can be deployed across sectors to address the most pressing social challenges of our time. This will be done via hands-on projects and idea labs that encourage you to explore topics deeply. You will also cultivate the essential skill of "learning to learn," which will equip you to tackle present and future challenges.
What you’ll learn
Civic Tech Toolkit
Civic sector organizations, including governments, nonprofits, and social enterprises, need data and evidence-informed leaders. This requires a conceptual understanding of data science and AI tools, even if leaders and professionals are not engaged in data analysis or developing new algorithms. How can we create effective data visualizations? What types of data can be used for building AI applications in healthcare? When and why do AI algorithms fail, and how are they biased? Whether you want to develop effective policies for a city government, run an impact evaluation for your nonprofit, or develop a new technology tool for social impact, this course will help you build a data toolkit key to solving a wide array of problems in civic tech.
Community Action Lab
Working with varied constituencies in a community requires capacities for collaborating and connecting with others. The Community Action Lab will teach practice-based approaches to create effective interpersonal and small-group communication, strengthening interdisciplinary team creativity, and building connections between ideas, people, and stories. Our global classroom affords us the opportunity to engage each other from varied life experiences and world views. Through projects and exercises, you will learn about the community we carry with us, the communities we encounter, recognizing social imaginaries, cultivating empathetic imagination, using a critical response process, and utilizing storytelling to navigate conflict.
To be impactful data-savvy leaders, you need to clearly communicate your ideas in diverse professional settings. The Writing Lab will teach you to be an impactful communicator through the refining of articulation. When we write about our work, we have a listener in mind - a collaborator, a peer, or maybe a potential investor. What we say is important, but how we say it winds up revealing much about ourselves and our preparation. Even ‘automatic’ processes – like writing – can be enhanced through intention. Through group exercises and individual projects, these courses will work on conveying complex information in simple writing, descriptive and analytical writing, making a persuasive argument, and sharpening your distinct writing style.
Law + Tech Clinic
This course offers a fundamental understanding of the roles that law and policy play in global tech settings. Examples and projects will provide real-world context to these challenges. You will share a common understanding of these challenges which will allow you to fully understand news and reports on these subjects and place them in an appropriate context. You will be able to effectively communicate with policymakers, citizens and other stake-holders.
"In order to make an impact, we need evidence-based solutions. The Civic Tech Institute challenged me to think about problems with a data mindset. How do we know which resources to trust? How do we process the data? Is there a global approach to the problem and the solution?"
Fátima Bourhim, Spain
Who is the
We believe transformative innovators transcend disciplines and are not defined by test scores. Our ideal applicants are creative problem-solvers in the social sector who are highly motivated and persistent in the face of challenges. We want people who welcome collaborative spaces, who wear their talent with humility, who take responsibility for their own learning and growth, and who want to use their talents in the service of other people.
Our eligibility criteria for the Civic Tech Institute are:
→ Applicants must have work experience, or show a demonstrated intent to work in, the social sector (eg: public policy, nonprofits, government, or social enterprises).
→ Applicants should be available to attend 3-hour daily live sessions on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays.
→ Applicants would also need to commit an additional 10 hours per week over 10 weeks of instruction for projects and assignments.
We welcome applicants from all professional, geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. We heavily encourage individuals from non-STEM backgrounds to apply. We also encourage women and individuals from underrepresented groups to apply for the Civic Tech Institute.
→ Written applications for the 2024 cohort will open January 4, 2024
→ Written applications for the 2024 cohort are due January 26, 2024
→ Faculty interviews with finalists will be scheduled the week of February 9, 2024
→ Admissions offers for the 2024 cohort will be made by February 19, 2024
Our faculty are leaders in their respective fields, comprising domain expertise in data science, climate science, behavioral science, public health, political theory, community organizing, and writing. Most of all, they are jointly committed to the craft of teaching. Our courses are designed for small cohorts of 25 students or fewer, ensuring that you will have bountiful opportunities to connect with our accomplished faculty in class and in individualized coachings.
"The core faculty come from different disciplines, so even if you already come to the Civic Tech Institute with advanced ideas on a topic, the conversations with the faculty and the cohort will allow you to take them further."
Riedwaan Fakier, South Africa
Creating a Lifelong Community of Ambitious Minds
At the conclusion of each program term, graduates are entitled to a Certificate of Completion and are welcomed to join the Equitech Alumni Network. This cross-cohort community of talented young innovators share opportunities, collaborate on shared research, and inspire one another. A few of the privileges of alumni status include:
Alumni from the Civic Tech Institute are invited to monthly Leadership Labs with leading practitioners in tech and academia where open dialogue is encouraged. The network also supports career preparedness with workshops and mentorship opportunities.
The Civic Tech Institute curriculum is designed to advance your career in the public or social sectors. Our goal is to provide you with varied perspectives and lenses to help you envision the next generation solutions facing local communities. Faculty have written letters of recommendation for alumni who make exemplary strides in their coursework.
In addition to online seminars and retreats, alumni are invited to attend regional "IRL" conference weekends where Equitech Futures alumni across cohorts are able to meet, ideate, and collaborate in-person. Equitech Futures faculty and staff facilitate these community gatherings. Within the last two years, we have hosted IRLs in Nairobi, Oxford, New Delhi, Kathmandu, Chicago, and New York.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Tuition for the Civic Tech Institute is US $9500 and includes:
- Ten weeks of instruction
- Career support for participants throughout 2024
- Access to ongoing Equitech Alumni Network programming
Thanks to generous support from our philanthropic partners, we will provide full tuition waivers for each student admitted to the 2024 cohort.
"The Community Action Lab course taught me what to do when I'm presenting an idea to someone who has a different perspective than me. I learned techniques to advocate for my position in a respectful way that continues the dialogue."
Sherry Xue, China
Frequently Asked QuestionsApply now
What educational qualifications does an ideal candidate have?
Candidates from all educational backgrounds are welcome to apply - including those that come from non-traditional academic disciplines or degrees, as well as applicants who have not been able to complete an undergraduate degree but are actively working in the social sector. An ideal candidate would instead have clear, demonstrated experience in working with governments, NGOs, or social enterprises. Some profiles of successful CTI scholars from the last year can be found in our Newsroom.
I don’t meet xyz criteria, but meet all the others. Can I still apply?
Applicants must commit to attending 3 hours of live classes on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays for 10 weeks. If you have questions about any other criteria - please reach out to us at email@example.com and we can discuss if the program would be a right fit for you.
I have a question that isn’t listed here.
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Who should apply?
The CTI is open to applicants from all educational backgrounds, anywhere in the world, working in the social sector (local, state, or national governments, nonprofits, NGOs, social enterprises) who want to use data and technology to tackle societal changes. The CTI does not require any prior background in data science or programming and applicants from non-stem backgrounds are particularly encouraged to apply.
I've done online learning before. How is this program different?
Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are generally asynchronous offerings that allow you to go at your own pace but without customization. That flexibility comes with less accountability. However, small cohort-based classes at Equitech Futures ensure that you learn through live discussions with a talented group of peers. Learning with others, and being able to speak directly to instructors as you do, will make a difference to how much you're able to take in.
What is the format of classes?
Coursework in the CTI is evenly weighted between Civic Tech Toolkit, Law + Tech Clinic, Community Action Lab, and Writing Lab. Each course meets for 3 hours each week in live, synchronous, cohort-based online classes. In order to accommodate working professionals, our meeting times are oriented toward the weekends, meeting from 13:00-16:00 UTC on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays.
I work full time. Will I have to ask my supervisor for time off work to complete this program?
Classes are scheduled between 13:00 UTC and 16:00 UTC on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. We oriented our coursework toward the weekends this year in order to accommodate working professionals in our program. However, if the class time overlaps with your scheduled work hours, we ask that you have a conversation with your supervisor before accepting your place in the program to ensure you will be allowed the flexibility over these 10 weeks to attend class fully without work distractions and with your video camera on. In the past, many employers have made this accommodation when they consider the growth you will achieve.
I am a citizen of xyz country, residing in abc country. Can I still apply?
Equitech Futures is committed to creating a global community that is inclusive and accessible to everyone who wishes to be a part of it. We encourage applicants from all professional, geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds to apply.
What technology platforms are used?
Our live classes and special seminars are accessed via Zoom. Individual coaching sessions with faculty, social encounters, and study groups are held on our course-related Discord server.
What happens if I begin but cannot complete the course?
Our cohort is small, and we have significantly more applicants than we have the capacity to serve. We expect our incoming cohort to consider their own participation seriously because accepting a place closes the opportunity for another student. For this reason, if a student begins but does not complete the program for any reason other than a health emergency, we will be unable to attest to their participation or to accept an application for any other program in the future.
How do we all meet across different time zones at the same time?
Our community is built by coming together from around the globe in the same digital space at the same moments in time. In order to calibrate for waking hours, we schedule coursework from 13:00 UTC to 16:00 UTC. That translates roughly to morning sessions in the Americas, afternoon sessions in Europe and Africa, and evening sessions in Asia. In the past, students from California were joining at 6:00 a.m. Pacific Time, while students in China were finishing coursework at 12 midnight China Standard Time.
I am currently enrolled in an academic program. Am I eligible to apply for the CTI?
You may apply while you are enrolled in another academic program, but we strongly recommend considering your schedule as the course requires 16-20 hours of commitment every week. Inability to meet with the program’s participation policies will render applicants ineligible for graduation from the CTI.