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: Creativity and Free Expression, Future of Work(ers), and Cities and States. Additional details about each position can be found below. 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:
Creativity and Free Expression:
Creativity and Free Expression (CFE) explores how cultural narratives affect and shape contemporary movements, and how the arts, media and journalism, and film can contribute to fairer and more just societies. Our team seeks to uncover stories we haven’t heard before, and to elevate voices that have been marginalized, distorted, or ignored. We support these voices and narratives through a range of practices: writing and spoken word, visual arts, performance, moving images, and investigative journalism. In addition, we support the organizations and networks that best sustain a just and equitable arts, film, and journalism sector; which enables these fields to thrive.
The CFE Tech Fellow will be a critical partner in helping to leverage opportunities to learn and integrate emerging practices, platforms and digital resources into our respective disciplines. CFE has launched unprecedented research on an emerging landscape of artists and practices using immersive or interactive media and the concerns related to equality. The Fellow will be expected to be a thought partner in building upon and advancing this early research; help design new areas of understanding and knowledge between the intersections of technology, art and storytelling; and support programming and engagement opportunities. The team will continue to explore new storytelling forms and how the creative sector can amplify critical conversations about emerging technology and its social and cultural implications.
Candidates for this role should have:
Experience working in one or more of the creative sectors including arts and culture, journalism or film.
Experience working with multi-stakeholder initiatives and networks.
Experience in strategic thinking, program design and program coordination.
Knowledge of a range of new storytelling forms and new media practices
Knowledge of a creative technology ecosystem that includes important actors, such as organizations, residencies/fellowships, curators, and critics
Ideas on what the cultural sector’s role is in addressing emerging challenges within the technology landscape
Experience synthesizing and presenting research and writing memos.
Future of Work(ers):
The Future of Work(ers) program aims to advance a more fair, equitable, and economically secure future for workers, particularly low-wage workers. Technological innovation, in combination with other long-standing factors, is reshaping how value is generated and shared, how demand connects to supply, and how employers relate to workers. Consequently, the nature of work is changing as business models and practices that often increase the precarity of work and decrease job quality emerge and proliferate. We seek to center the concerns and voices of workers most impacted by these changes in developing solutions that ensure just and fair economic outcomes.
The Future of Work(ers) technology fellow is a key member of the team who will help to expand its knowledge and networks in the technology industry, as well as sharpen its grant making and strategy. The fellow will provide strategic guidance and support around harnessing opportunities and addressing threats inherent to technology with respect to work, workers, and the economy more broadly. The fellow will serve as a critical partner helping to shape grantmaking strategy, facilitate multi-stakeholder networks and initiatives, support grantee partners and frontline organizations, and represent the team at external convenings and events, amongst other things.
Candidates for this role should have:
Experience in any of the following areas: designing and developing new technologies, investing in tech companies, adoption and scaling of new technologies within a business, implementing social impact or high road business strategies within tech companies.
Deep relationships and networks within the tech industry, both within and outside of Silicon Valley
Knowledge of technology, innovation, or industrial policy and the broader public interest technology ecosystem
Familiarity with issues such as tech ethics, data governance, social impacts of algorithmic decision-making, high-road business practices, worker organizing, and/or platform accountability, and the role that labor and worker power plays in improving conditions for workers.
Experience in strategic thinking, program design and management, and research
Experience working with multi-stakeholder initiatives and networks; ability to be a bridge-builder and effectively communicate and connect with people who have diverse perspectives and work across a range of fields (e.g., from organizing and social movements to finance and investing)
Enthusiasm for, if not also familiarity with, directly supporting and strengthening the capacities of economic/worker justice organizations and networks
Cities & States:
The Cities & States program supports state-based organizations across six U.S. states. Our goal is to support organized multiracial constituency bases to exercise greater power and voice in state-level governance and government. We center constituencies of color, immigrant constituencies, and low-income people. Our work cuts across various issues and approaches. We do work with both actors and institutions inside government and civic and policy leaders and organizations outside government. We aim to provide longer-term grant to support the full cycle of change, from campaigns to policy change to implementation to consolidation to replication.
The Cities & States team seeks a technology fellow with knowledge of community organizing, civic and voter engagement, related data tools and technology, and a broader set of interests related to effective and equitable use of technology to strengthen governance and the public sector. We seek someone who understands both the threats and opportunities that technology presents for advancing progressive governance, has experience with state-level organizing and voter engagement campaigns, and will shape our work in reclaiming technology for social justice and the public good. We would prefer a candidate with knowledge of the community organizing, voter engagement, low-wage worker organizing, and/or organized labor landscapes. The role of technology in our program area is fundamentally about how it can and should be deployed to expand the electorate, engage and mobilize historically disenfranchised communities, and strengthen their voice and impact in public decision-making processes at various levels of civil society and government.
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 the 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 other technology experts at Ford 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, developing expertise to advise on emerging technologies, 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 a 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
- This position is primarily a sedentary role. However, the person in this position may need to occasionally move about inside the office to liaise with internal staff, access files, office machinery and a copy machine/printer. Additionally, some travel may be required.
Alignment to Culture and Values
- Commitment to the Foundation’s mission and core values of equity, openness, collaboration, trust, accountability and urgency
- Personal qualities of humility, capacity for self-reflection, and a sense of humor
- Discretion and ability to handle confidential issues
- Action-orientated and entrepreneurial self-starter who can work well independently and in teams
- Medical and dental benefits for employee and immediate family on first day of work
- Retirement savings account with matching company contributions of up to 13%
- Three weeks’ paid vacation in first year of work; four weeks in subsequent years
- Tuition Reimbursement
- Office closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day
- Professional development initiatives for growth
- Generous parental leave (maternal and paternal) during new child’s first year (born into family or adopted)
Salary: Salary is based on experience and on the Foundation’s commitment to internal equity. A generous benefits package is provided.
Equal employment opportunity and having a diverse staff are fundamental principles at The Ford Foundation, where employment and promotional opportunities are based upon individual capabilities and qualifications without regard to race, color, religion, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation/affectional preference, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status or any other protected characteristic as established under law.