5/17/22: First Grant Awarded


On May 12, we received some excellent news: we've been awarded a grant of $250,000 by The Heinz Endowments to make progress on our app. Until now, most work on PDAP (except for Data Bounties) has been done pro bono by a small cast of folks. We've been lucky to receive help from talented, generous volunteers, and we're proud of our steady progress.
The short version: we get to hire staff to work on PDAP.

Grant details

A statement from the Endowments about their mission:
The Heinz Endowments is devoted to the mission of helping our region prosper as a vibrant center of creativity, learning, and social, economic and environmental sustainability. Core to our work is the vision of a just community where all are included and where everyone who calls southwestern Pennsylvania home has a real and meaningful opportunity to thrive.
We were awarded this grant in part because we are headquartered in Pittsburgh, and have started building relationships with data users and contributors here. This is a national project and we expect to have contributors and data from all overβ€”but we're planting seeds here first.

Goals for the next year

We are using this grant to attempt to meet the following goals:
  1. 1.
    Release a local computer app that allows a volunteer web scraper to write scraper code and run scrapers to submit the data for community use.
  2. 2.
    Data is available and used by journalists, researchers, reform groups, or police organizations to impact the criminal justice system.
  3. 3.
    PDAP provides equitable opportunities for groups of volunteers to maintain Scrapers and Datasets in their local precincts.
Measures of success:
  • User interviews and logs will be conducted periodically to measure our success and constantly improve their systems over time.
  • Citations, case studies, or distinct consumers of PDAP data for some related purpose or project covering at least 3 geographic areas; data is available to the public covering 100% of the known Datasets for 20 distinct agencies; information is published about which Datasets PDAP has covered.
  • In at least 3 distinct geographic areas, a small community of volunteers exists to keep the Scrapers and Datasets up to date.
We're aiming high with these goals. In addition to making a usable app, we need to demonstrate that it impacts Pittsburgh and other communities.

How we'll spend the money

This grant builds our capacity by supporting two full-time roles: a full stack software engineer and a program director. We're prioritizing candidates local to Pittsburgh, to focus our work and impact there.

First 6 months

  • Initial development of a usable prototype for the local scraping app (Full Stack Software Engineer)
  • User testing and interviews to drive rapid iteration on the app and documentation (Program Director)
  • Deployment of the open-source local scraping app

Second 6 months

  • Refinement of the local scraping app and API based on initial usage (Full Stack Software Engineer)
  • Release of a PDAP Data Intake API for the scraping app to submit data to our archives (Full Stack Software Engineer)
  • Refinement of our existing web app for managing our database of police Datasets (Full Stack Software Engineer)
  • Monitoring and supporting the use of the apps (Program Director)
  • Administering Data Bounties to support the Datasets database (Program Director)

Get involved

  • Can you build things in Python as part of a tiny team? Reach out to [email protected] with your resume and cover letter.
  • Can you help us pay for other essential things, like legal help and hosting? Contribute here. We're a 501c3, so your donation may be tax deductible.
  • To keep in the loop about upcoming Data Bounties (get paid to scrape data), subscribe to our email newsletter on our website or join our Discord.