Data Grant 2021

Submission deadline: January 8, 2021

The Data Grant program offers $6,000 worth of data work to San Diego county nonprofits and news organizations. The program is aimed at accelerating data use in mid-sized organizations for which data has the potential to make a significant impact. For 2021, we are expanding the program by working with data analytics, sociology and geography students who will work with nonprofits as part of their final capstone projects.

The Data Library will consider proposals for projects that primarily involve the collection, analysis, interpretation or visualization of data. Here are a few examples of potential projects:

  • Site planning: What locations are closest to a large number of potential clients?
  • Story support. Basic data work to identify facts and trends to support news stories, blog posts or web sites.
  • Donor segmentation: What are the characteristics of large or persistent donors?
  • Client retention: What factors influence whether a client will continue to use your services?
  • Finding new opportunities: What are potential new client groups?
  • Reporting: Visualization for reporting, using existing data to tell donors a more powerful story.
  • Operational improvement: What are the opportunities for increased revenue or decreased costs.
  • Exploratory Analysis, to lay the groundwork for a larger data project.

Projects can also involve consulting to build data capacity, such as:

  • Baseline assessments of data use and data capacity
  • Training and consulting in use of data management best practices
  • Training and consulting in locating and using high-value public datasets.

The deliverables of the project will vary from project to project, but recipients with a data project will typically receive answers to 3 to 5 data-oriented questions, in the form of datasets, visualizations, or reports, concluding with a final presentation at the recipient’s site. Consulting projects will usually involve training and setting up systems and process that the recipient will continue to use after the grant period has ended. 

Applicant organizations should:

  • Be a non-profit with revenues between \$200K and \$3M, or a mission-driven news organization.
  • Demonstrate the capacity to act on new information gained from the project.
  • Be able to dedicate 10 hours of staff time to the project for consultation and review

How to Apply

Send an email to with the following information:

  • A brief statement of your organization’s mission, theory of change,  and a link to your website.
  • A brief description of your data needs.
  • Two or more data-oriented questions you’d like to answer.
  • A description of how the project will impact your organization.
  • List what data you have available for the project. Such as donation records in Salesforce, extracts from the HMIS, public datasets, FOIA responses,  or spreadsheets of results from client surveys.
  • Describe your internal data capacity. Is your staff skilled with Excel, Tableau, SQL, or other data tools?

Decisions to accept a proposal will be based primarily on:

  1.  How well the proposed project fits with the skills of Library staff and volunteers.
  2. The impact that a successful project will have on the client’s nonprofit or the community the organization serves.

Beyond the fit for our skills, we’ll be looking for organizations that have a significant, well established need and the maturity to use the results of the project to advance their mission. Because the students analysts will be selecting from multiple project options, each project we offer will have a short proposal posted to our public website.

If you have questions before you apply, or need help to determine the best sort of project to propose, email the Library’s director, Eric Busboom at, or book a consultation meeting on my schedule.


The deadline for the email proposal for the current grant round is January 8, 2021. Projects that are considered a good fit will have a short description of the project posted to our website, San Diego In Numbers, where students can view projects. If students select your project, students will do most of the work, with Library staff managing the project and providing review and quality checks.

Updates and Announcements

For updates and announcements about the program, please join the data grant mailing list: