A Knowledge Network

For Public Interest Technology

Bringing underrepresented lived experiences under the spotlight, the PIT Knowledge Network is aimed at ensuring balanced and inclusive solutions in the field of Public Interest Technology.

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Overview of Our Project

The PIT-KN project began as an endeavor to strengthen career pathways into PIT for historically underrepresented communities. Project aims include:

  1. Developing an understanding of PIT as a career field for students and social entrepreneurs 
  2. Examining the careers and lived experiences of underrepresented PIT entrepreneurs
  3. 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”

Read the Report

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. 

Coordination Challenges

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. 

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.

Mainstream Experiences

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.

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.

2021

PIT-UN Challenge Grant (TBD)

2022

Catalytic Funding

Funding provided by New America through the New Venture Fund

Want to get involved?

Complete this interest form and/or email us at UM-PIT-KN@umich.edu

Join the Network!

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:
https://www.newamerica.org/pit/about