Public Interest Technologists design, implement, and advocate for tech-enabled solutions with the goal of advancing the common good in an equitable manner.
The Public Interest Technology Knowledge Network (PIT-KN) project aims to democratize knowledge within the field of public interest technology by mainstreaming the lived experiences of underrepresented PIT entrepreneurs (defined here simply as tech-enabled social entrepreneurs) that have historically been relegated to the peripheries.
Overview of Our Project
The PIT-KN project began as an endeavor to strengthen career pathways into PIT for historically underrepresented communities. Our research aims include:
- Developing an understanding of PIT as a career field for students and social entrepreneurs
- Examining the careers and lived experiences of underrepresented PIT entrepreneurs
- Creating a virtual platform to unearth and mainstream the knowledge, both tacit and explicit, of underrepresented PIT entrepreneurs
Read about our Year 1 study in “Building Career Pathways for Diverse Public Interest Technology Entrepreneurs”
What We Know
Racial and Gender Inequities
Communities who are closest to the problems are often underrepresented when problems are defined, and solutions are developed. Inequities intersect across many lines and in interesting ways — exploring these nuances between and among underrepresented communities is worthwhile.
Lack of Funding
Many promising social ventures led by underrepresented founders struggle to secure seed funding to move from ideation to to scale . Given that PIT entrepreneurs’ goals are to create impact as well as profit, securing funding is more difficult as the footprint of social impact investors is much smaller than conventional venture capitalists.
The experiences of students, social entrepreneurs, and other practitioners are often siloed, limiting the potential to collaborate and co-develop solutions. Students are largely unaware of public interest technology and how to launch a career in the field.
Our Approach to Tackle These Challenges
Share Lived Experiences
Our platform will encourage individuals to share their lived experiences by allowing them to be creative about how this knowledge is presented; by using journal sketches, poetry, analyses, notes, essays, draft reports, and other methods.
Technology can detect trends, themes, and patterns across communities. Individual experiences become building blocks of shared knowledge and context for the work of practitioners in public interest technology. By mainstreaming the collective experiences, we aim to normalize underrepresented voices in the field.
Connect, Collaborate, and Create
We will promote knowledge creation from diverse contributions through tools to annotate and translate knowledge in a trusted community of collaborators.
Why mainstream underrepresented PIT Entrepreneurs?
PIT entrepreneurs seek to leverage technology to address a myriad of social problems caused by shortcomings in existing markets and government systems
PIT entrepreneurs collaborate with stakeholders across sectors and disciplines, synthesizing learnings and developing innovative solutions
Technological solutions are often designed to reflect the lived experience of their creators, as such, our aim is specifically on mainstreaming the lived experiences of underrepresented PIT entrepreneurs.
Where We Started
We started as a PIT-UN member working to build career pathways into Public Interest Technology (PIT) for students and social entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented communities.
Funding provided by New America through the New Venture Fund
More About Public Interest Technology (PIT)
Public Interest Technology adopts best practices in human-centered design, product development, process re-engineering, and data science to solve public problems in an inclusive, iterative manner-continuously learning, improving, and aiming to deliver better outcomes to the public.
Please visit New America’s website for more information: