The Ford Foundation’s Technology Fellowship Program was created to support integrated learning and action at the intersection of social justice and technology throughout the work of the foundation. Fellows work both as a cohort across the foundation and as part of program teams to explore the role and impact of technology with social justice and help develop a critical technology lens throughout the foundation. The Technology Fellowship Program has three overarching goals:
1. Enrich perspectives within the Foundation by providing a perspective grounded in technological experience and expertise
2. Assess and increase the technical capacity of the Foundation’s program areas
3. Generate novel, forward-thinking ideas and build new relationships and networks
Technology Fellows will play a strategic advisory role to the Foundation as well as provide practical technical expertise to staff and grantees. Note that this role does not include IT and administration responsibilities. Technology Fellows will enable the foundation to better serve the technical needs of grantees, identify emerging opportunities and threats related to technology, help develop networks and communities of social justice values-driven technology experts, and enrich the diverse perspectives of the program area teams. Technology Fellows have the potential to add a technical perspective to the way the Foundation supports leaders and organizations on the frontlines of social change around the world.
These three Technology Fellow positions will be embedded in the following program areas of work for a two-year, competitively compensated fellowship: Gender, Racial and Ethnic Justice (GREJ), Civic Engagement and Government (CEG), and Building Institutions and Networks (BUILD). Each Fellow will be placed within, and have primary responsibility for, a program area based on mutual interest and fit. The Technology Fellow will report to the director of their program area and will work closely with the program officers, associates, assistants, and grantees of that area.
The cohort of Technology Fellows across the foundation will serve as a second home and provide a basis for intersectional work across the Foundation, including other program areas. The Technology Fellows will co-work regularly, enabling fellows to share experiences, collaborate on challenges, and identify foundation-wide opportunities.
The ideal candidate will possess expertise in technology-related issues and a deep interest in social change. They will exhibit characteristics reflective of Ford Foundation culture, such as humility, a capacity for self-reflection, engaging interpersonal skills, and an inquisitive and collaborative nature. Each program area also seeks specific types of expertise:
GREJ focuses on challenging the connected issues of mass incarceration, the demonization of immigrants and migrants, and the attack on women’s fundamental rights. Our work focuses on countering abuses of power and reimagining the state’s role in protecting the safety and dignity of all people—and engaging state authorities as partners in that process.
The next GREJ Tech Fellow should have experience working at the intersections of race and gender, either broadly or more specifically on GREJ’s issue areas. Experience in organizing, media, and policy work is a big plus so that they can engage meaningfully with our grassroots, grasstops, and policy-oriented grantees. GREJ would also like someone that can think critically about both the potential productive instrumental uses of technology in GREJ issue areas as well as be able to employ a more critical technology lens and perspective across the program area.
The work of our Civic Engagement and Government program is to support communities (including young people) to organize around the issues, policies, and systems that affect their lives. We seek to ensure representation through voting rights and a fair and accurate census; to support strong, durable, community-led grassroots civic organizations and aligned institutions; and center the lived experience of historically marginalized or disenfranchised people to have power and voice in government decision-making and allocation of public resources.
The CEG team seeks a Fellow who can build the technological intuition of the CEG team, across programs within the foundation, and with the CEG grantee community. In particular, we seek someone who understands both the threats and opportunities that technology presents, and will shape our work in reclaiming technology for social justice and the public good. The role of technology in our program area is fundamentally about how it can and should elevate the voices, broaden the reach, and deepen the impact of efforts led by communities that have been historically excluded or marginalized from the political process. This role would play out internally with respect to CEG’s grantmaking strategy; programmatically in support of issues and social movement work; and organizationally in helping grantees strengthen their technological intuition and/or technology practices to protect and strengthen their work.
The BUILD program provides general support and tailored institutional strengthening support to a cohort of more than 200 grantees in the U.S. and around the world who are key partners in Ford’s work to end inequality. One area of increasing concern for many of these organizations is digital security. BUILD has not yet fully developed the processes and partnerships needed to assess and address digital security needs in the same way it does with issues like leadership development, financial sustainability, and strengthening human resources.
The BUILD team seeks a fellow who can help to design and implement a coordinated, evidence-based approach to digital security strengthening for grantees in both the US and the Global South. If successful, this approach also be adaptable to other areas of the foundation in addressing the digital security needs of non-BUILD grantees. As needed the tech fellow also will advise the BUILD team on other aspects of institutional strengthening that intersect with technology.
Candidates for BUILD should have:
A Technology Fellow will be charged with three key roles to serve their program area and the Foundation at large. These roles are described below along with the potential work that fellows may undertake.
1. Strategic Advisor – Strategic support is a critical priority of a Technology Fellow. Tasks may include helping the program area examine the role of technology in advancing its objectives, informing development of technology strategies for the program area, conducting landscape research, identifying and analyzing potential threats, supporting strategic grant proposal reviews, serving as an internal technology advisor, identifying technologically proficient grantees and thought partners working in the program area, and collaborating with the Technology Program Officer on Foundation priorities.
2. Technical Expert – Building the technical capacity and perspective of the team is an integral part of the Technology Fellow’s role. Tasks may include supporting technical proposal reviews, conducting technology assessments, conceptualizing and supporting development of relevant tools, coaching and mentoring grantees, and working as internal technology “guides.”
3. Independent Thought Partner – This role is secondary and tasks may include conducting independent research projects, advising organizations in the field, participating in relevant civil society coalitions and networks, and writing and publishing on topics at the intersection of technology, social justice, and the program area. The level of focus on this secondary role will be determined in collaboration with the program area director.
Technology Fellows will serve as members of the program team and will be expected to participate actively in team wide meetings and activities. Technology Fellows will not be responsible for duties such as equipment maintenance, systems administration, website maintenance, or event logistics. Technology fellows will not replace or supplement the existing IT and administrative infrastructure of the Ford Foundation.
● Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience with minimum 4 years’ professional experience working with media, technology, advocacy, or policy organizations
● Strong ability to critically assess technologies relevant to the program area, particularly regarding usefulness, effectiveness, security risks, and potential impact
● Sophisticated knowledge about existing and emerging technologies, and their potential intersections within a fellow’s program area
● Experienced in understanding needs of individuals, organizations, or communities and collaboratively designing technical solutions to meet them
● Strong communication skills, including the ability to collaborate with and articulate the potential impact of technology to diverse audiences – particularly those utilizing more traditional forms of engagement
● Self-motivated and disciplined with a high degree of comfort working both independently and collaboratively
● Experience working with a range of individuals in civil society, government, and/or the private sector
● Demonstrated experience working effectively as part of a team and with colleagues of diverse backgrounds and perspectives
● Excellent analytical, oral presentation, writing, and interpersonal skills
● Personal qualities of humility, capacity for self-reflection, and an inquisitive and collaborative nature
● Ability to work effectively in a shifting environment, navigate ambiguity, and work independently
● Commitment to the Foundation’s mission and core values of equity, fairness, and diversity
● Fluency in English
● Willingness to be based in New York City
● Advanced degree in related field of work or equivalent experience
● Professional experience working internationally or within a global context
● Specific experience working at the intersection of technology and one of the three program areas named above
The FORD FOUNDATION is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with visionary people on the front-lines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has ten regional offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
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