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Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) Challenge Grant

Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) Challenge Grant

Administered by the New Venture Fund (on behalf of Ford, Hewlett, and New America)



This is a limited submission funding opportunity for Stanford faculty with PI eligibility (those with UTL, MCL and NTL-Research faculty appointments) from all schools. The priority areas and project examples are described below.  As a charter member of the new Public Interest Technology University Network, Stanford faculty with PI eligibility are eligible to submit proposals for challenge grants to support new curricular and co-curricular initiatives that promote efforts to explore the connections between technology and the public interest. 

Number of applicants permitted: 3 (see the internal submission guidelines below)


Internal deadline: Monday, June 28, 2021, 5pm  (see the internal submission guidelines below)

Three applicants notified to proceed with their applications: July 6, 2021

For the three applicants selected:

Institutional representative (RPM/RMG or CGO/OSR) deadline: July 8, 2021

Full proposal deadline: July 15, 2021


  • Stanford faculty with PI eligibility (those with UTL, MCL, and NTL-Research faculty appointments) in all schools.
  • A person may be listed as the Principal Investigator on only one Challenge Grant application, but individuals may be listed as collaborators on multiple applications.
  • Charter member universities and colleges must work with their PIT-UNdesignees to coordinate the submission of three applications. 


A PDF file of the application guidelines can be found here. Please review in detail. An NVF subgrant budget template will be provided to the three applicants selected. 

Amount of Funding:

Funding is available in three categories.

Up to $45,000 total costs (direct and indirect costs) for 12 months

Up to $90,000 total costs (direct and indirect costs) for 12 months

Up to $180,000 total costs (direct and indirect costs) for 12 months

Budgets for each of the 3 applicants selected should be inclusive of an indirect rate set at 20% of total direct costs. (Note: Detailed budgets are not required for the internal selection process, though applicants should indicate which of the categories they plan to apply in. The three applicants selected to represent Stanford will need to produce full budgets for formal submission.)


The PIT University Network Challenge seeks to encourage new ideas, foster collaborations, and incentivize resource- and information-sharing among network members. In 2020–PIT-UN’s second year–42 proposals from 28 institutions were awarded a total of $4,404,595 in grant funds. 

For its third year, projects are welcome in any of the priority areas below.

  • Educational Offerings
  • Career Pipeline/Placement
  • Faculty & Institution Building
  • Strengthening the PIT University Network

The PIT-UN Challenge will prioritize projects that center the needs of communities who have historically been denied access to new technologies, been systematically left out of conversations at the intersection of technology and policy, and who have been denied opportunities to join the technology workforce, in efforts to further the positive social impact of technology for all communities. Centering community needs may be demonstrated by incorporating community partners in the design and execution of proposed projects.

By way of example, projects may include ideas such as:

  • Curricular and co-curricular offerings that train students to critically assess the ethical, political, and societal implications of new technologies and/or design and deploy technologies in service of values and for the public good.
  • Experiential learning opportunities such as clinics, fellowships, apprenticeships or internships that give students real-world exposure to the practice of public interest technology. 
  • New models of career training, placement, and/or financial support for individuals who seek to pursue careers in the nascent field of Public Interest Technology. 
  • Partnerships with non-profit or private sector partners that demonstrate the real-world application of Public Interest Technology to solve pressing problems.
  • New models to aid pre- and post-tenure faculty participation in (and recognition for) the research, curriculum development, teaching, and service work that builds Public Interest Technology as an arena of inquiry and training.
  • Platforms or practices to connect educators focused on public interest technology, so they may share curricula and strategies for improving public interest technology programs. 
  • Projects that aim to identify and pursue the key issues and questions that animate public interest technology as a field of study. 

PIT-UN charter members may partner with other educational institutions on their proposals, including those that are not part of the Network. Proposals that are a collaboration between two or more universities should submit one single application, explaining the nature of the collaboration in their application.

PIT-UN Background

The Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) is a partnership of 36 colleges and universities convened by New America, the Ford Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation. The network is dedicated to building the nascent field of public interest technology through curriculum development, faculty research opportunities, and experiential learning programs, in order to inspire a new generation of civic-minded technologists and policy leaders.

PIT-UN overview webpage:

NY Times article about PIT-UN:

PIT-UN at Stanford:

PIT-UN Stanford Designee: Professor Rob Reich, Political Science

As part of our involvement in PIT-UN, Stanford University is supporting innovations around public interest technology in education, research, and community engagement. Faculty are launching new courses that bridge disciplines: computers, ethics, and public policy co-taught across three fields; a course on law, bias, and algorithms joint between law and engineering; and a course on data and sustainable development, designed by earth scientists and computer scientists. Research efforts are harnessing advances in technology to address public policy problems, including through the Computational Policy Lab and the Stanford Poverty & Technology Lab. Student-initiated groups, such as CS+Social Good, are exploring how computer science can be applied to solve social problems and promote social impact. And the university’s long-range vision promises new opportunities for curricular innovation and research at this intersection in human-centered artificial intelligence, data science, and social problem-solving in the years ahead.


By Monday, June 28, 2021, 5pm, please submit one PDF file (File name:  Last name_PIT-UN.pdf) containing the following in the order listed below via email attachment to:

Ashlyn Jaeger

Program Manager, Ethics, Society, and Technology Hub

Institutional representatives:  You do not need to submit your internal proposals to your RPM/RMG or CGO/OSR for their approval.  You may submit them directly to Ashlyn Jaeger.

1 - Title Page

Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) Challenge Grant

Project title:

Project priority area: (select one: Educational Offerings, Career Pipeline/Placement, Faculty and Institution Building, Strengthening the PIT University Network)

PIs/Co-PIs from PIT-UN member institutions:

PI and Co-PI names, titles, departments, affiliated institution, phone numbers, email addresses


Collaborator names, titles, departments, collaborating institutions (non PIT-UNmember institutions), , phone numbers, email addresses

Total funding requested:

2 - Proposal (include the bold section headings and follow the instructions in the RFP)

Formatting:  single-spaced, Arial or Helvetica Font size 11, ½ inch margins

  • Elevator pitch
  • Project Plan
  • Impact
  • Network Impact
  • Institutional Support
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Partnership
  • Relevant Work

3 - Short CV or biosketch for the PI and Co-PIs, include links to Stanford webpages

Selection Process

Proposals will be reviewed by a committee of faculty convened by Prof. Reich, Stanford’s PIT-UN designee. The committee will select the three applicants to represent Stanford. Those applicants will be provided with the NVF subgrant budget template and instructions regarding submitting their applications to their institutional officials for their approval:

PIs in other schools: Contract and Grant Officers (CGOs) in the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR)

PIs in the School of Medicine: Research Process Manager (RPMs) in the Research Management Group (RMG)


Please email Ashlyn Jaeger ( with any questions or concerns.