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Open Call for Applications: Movement Scientist Fellows Program

Data for Black Lives (D4BL) is now accepting applications for our pioneering Movement Scientist Fellows Program for 2024-2025 through our open call. This unique fellowship is designed for individuals who are passionate about using data to create concrete social change in Black communities. We invite applications from dedicated scholars, activists, and practitioners who aim to bridge the gap between data science and social justice.

What is a Movement Scientist?

A Movement Scientist possesses the skills, vision, creativity, and empathy necessary to use data as a tool for social change, navigating the complexities of advanced technology in various settings.

Data for Black Lives has a history of nurturing Movement Scientists through workshops, mentorship, and conferences.

Mentorship & Project Execution:

In our 2024-2025 fellowship, each successful applicant will be paired with an experienced mentor to help bring their proposed data-driven idea to fruition. The program is open to individuals and organizations, with the stipulation that organizations must nominate a single representative to participate.

Community-Based Systems Dynamics:

The fellowship builds on the concept of Community-Based Systems Dynamics, fostering a common language among scientists, engineers, activists, organizers, and the general public.

Thematic Focus Areas for 2024-2025:

We are specifically looking for proposals addressing climate gentrification, water and food access, policing, surveillance, social determinants of health, and more. We also encourage applications from those in the arts and media sectors, with a focus on Black communities.


Fellows will receive up to $50,000 in funding per project, contingent on the number of selected fellows.

Conference Participation

Fellows will have the opportunity to present work at our upcoming conference in November.

Ongoing Mentorship and Support

Regular check-ins with D4BL staff, cohort members, mentors, and the possibility of a retreat (either in-person or virtual).

Data for Black Lives (D4BL) welcomes a diverse array of applicants for our Movement Scientist Fellows Program. Our aim is to foster a vibrant community of innovative thinkers and practitioners who can leverage data to effect meaningful change in Black communities. Here are the key eligibility criteria and qualifications we are looking for:

Diverse Professional Backgrounds:

  • Organizers: Grassroots organizers who have been working on the frontline to create local change in their communities. We seek individuals and organizations already committed to making a difference in the lives of Black people, especially those working locally and in-depth.
  • Academics: We encourage applications from post-docs, professors, and for this cycle, PhD students and candidates. Academic applicants should demonstrate a commitment to applying their research to real-world challenges, particularly those facing Black communities.
  • Practitioners: Individuals who have built their careers outside academia, such as technologists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, policymakers, activists, journalists, educators, and artists, are also strongly encouraged to apply. We value practical experience and a hands-on approach to addressing societal issues through data.

Commitment to Social Change:

Applicants should have a demonstrated record of work or strong interest in areas relevant to the fellowship’s focus, including but not limited to climate gentrification, water and food access, policing, surveillance, social determinants of health, and the use of data in arts and media.

A history of engagement in projects or initiatives aimed at improving the lives of Black communities will be a significant advantage.

Interdisciplinary Approach:

We welcome applicants who possess the ability to think across disciplines, integrate various skills and perspectives, and who are willing to explore innovative solutions. Individuals who embody a blend of different roles and expertise, and who can navigate the intersections of their various professional and personal pursuits, are ideal candidates.

Collaborative Spirit:

Prospective fellows should be prepared to work collaboratively with a diverse cohort, mentors, and the wider D4BL community. A commitment to shared learning, mutual respect, and a generosity of spirit is essential.

We value candidates who show a readiness to contribute to and learn from the collective wisdom of the group, fostering an environment of growth and shared success.

Demonstrated Impact and Vision:

Applicants should have a track record of contributing to public conversations in their field of expertise, especially as it relates to the empowerment of Black communities through data.

A clear vision for how the fellowship will advance their personal and professional goals, and how their work aligns with the mission of D4BL, is critical.

Data Capacity:

Ideal applicants may lack formal data expertise but recognize the potential of data-driven approaches to amplify their impact.

We welcome applicants from various sectors, especially those without a dedicated ‘data person’ but with a commitment to data-driven change.

The selection process for the Movement Scientists Fellows Program is comprehensive and considers a multitude of factors, tailored to each applicant and the overall composition of the fellowship cohort. We aim to assemble a group of fellows who, collectively, bring an array of experiences, ideas, and skills to the program.

We encourage all interested individuals who meet these criteria to apply and join us to create concrete and measurable social change in the lives of Black people.

You will be required to upload the following. Please consider this information carefully and ensure your attachments meet these requirements:

  1. A current resume or C.V.
  2. A personal statement that responds to the following questions. Responses to each question should be between 250-500 words; the personal statement should not exceed 1,000 words total.
    1. What is the data-driven project you propose to execute during a fellowship year? Please
      1. describe the problems are you trying to solve;
      2. outline the methods which might inform your project; and
      3. tell us about the public interest and/or the communities you aim to serve through your work.
    2. Why is the Data for Black Lives the right place for you to bring this work? Please share thoughts on:
      1. what kinds of activities you would conduct to engage other fellows and the broader D4BL community;
      2. how the opportunity to engage colleagues from different backgrounds—with a range of experiences and training in disciplines unfamiliar to you—might stimulate your work; and
      3. the skills, connections, and insights you are uniquely suited to contribute to the D4BL’s community and activities.
    3. How does your personal background and experience inform and influence your project or research?
  3. A PDF of 1-3 work samples for a public audience, such as articles, op-eds, events, portfolios, projects etc. Ideally, these should connect to the project proposal in some way, or help to demonstrate the feasibility of the project proposal. Please submit these samples as one combined PDF. Do not include more than three samples; we will only review the first three samples.

If contacted for an interview and requested, applicants should be prepared to share reference letters from two references. Reference letters are not required as part of the initial submission of an application.

Applications are now closed.

The review and selection of Movement Scientists Fellows applying through our open call will run through early spring. Finalists will be contacted for interviews by May 15th.

This fellowship is supported by The Wikimedia Knowledge Equity fund.

This program is a unique opportunity to contribute to a burgeoning movement that aims to leverage data for social justice, particularly in Black communities. If you are driven by the desire to make a significant impact using data, we strongly encourage you to apply.

Join us in forging a new future where data serves as a tool for equitable and transformative change!

Applications are now closed