Advancing Equitable AI in the US Social Sector

Article by Kelly Fitzsimmons: “…when developed thoughtfully and with equity in mind, AI-powered applications have great potential to help drive stronger and more equitable outcomes for nonprofits, particularly in the following three areas.

1. Closing the data gap. A widening data divide between the private and social sectors threatens to reduce the effectiveness of nonprofits that provide critical social services in the United States and leave those they serve without the support they need. As Kriss Deiglmeir wrote in a recent Stanford Social Innovation Review essay, “Data is a form of power. And the sad reality is that power is being held increasingly by the commercial sector and not by organizations seeking to create a more just, sustainable, and prosperous world.” AI can help break this trend by democratizing the process of generating and mobilizing data and evidence, thus making continuous research and development, evaluation, and data analysis more accessible to a wider range of organizations—including those with limited budgets and in-house expertise.

Take Quill.org, a nonprofit that provides students with free tools that help them build reading comprehension, writing, and language skills. Quill.org uses an AI-powered chatbot that asks students to respond to open-ended questions based on a piece of text. It then reviews student responses and offers suggestions for improvement, such as writing with clarity and using evidence to support claims. This technology makes high-quality critical thinking and writing support available to students and schools that might not otherwise have access to them. As Peter Gault, Quill.org’s founder and executive director, recently shared, “There are 27 million low-income students in the United States who struggle with basic writing and find themselves disadvantaged in school and in the workforce. … By using AI to provide students with immediate feedback on their writing, we can help teachers support millions of students on the path to becoming stronger writers, critical thinkers, and active members of our democracy.”..(More)”.

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