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Machine Learning for Social Good

school of computer science / undergraduate research

Uptake, a Chicago-based predictive analytics software company, has made a $1 million gift to Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science to establish a new fund for faculty and student projects, called Machine Learning for Social Good.

The fund, overseen by Roni Rosenfeld, professor of machine learning and language technologies, will provide opportunities for faculty and students to apply their expertise in data science and machine learning to initiatives that benefit the public sector.

"Social enterprises are tackling some of the world's most pressing challenges — things like combating human trafficking, improving access to education and fighting crime in city neighborhoods," said Uptake CEO Brad Keywell. "Data driven insights can provide solutions to each of these complex, systemic issues. By providing advanced data science resources and machine learning tools to these organizations, we're empowering them to take more informed actions to expand their ability to create impact for social good."

"Machine learning and data science have already contributed immensely to improving education, public health, economic development, international aid and other pressing social needs," Rosenfeld said. "That's why this support from Uptake is so critical and why we will engage faculty members and students from across SCS to bring forth our best talent to new applications."

Carnegie Mellon will use the fund to enable research projects for nongovernmental organizations, nonprofits and government agencies. For example, Rosenfeld has used the funding to support research on the topic of influenza (flu) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Each year, annual flu epidemics with variable timing and intensity occur in the United States and around the world," said Matthew Biggerstaff of the CDC's Applied Research and Modeling Team. "Early insights into the timing and intensity of the flu season could be very useful to public health officials to inform vaccination campaigns, communicating with the public, allocating resources and implementing strategies to combat the spread of flu disease."

In 2016, Uptake launched beyond.uptake, a philanthropic and civic innovation arm that leverages the power of data to solve critical problems for social sector organizations. Its current applications will deliver a college matching solution for underserved students, an anti-poaching solution in Sub-Saharan Africa, and an anti-human trafficking solution on the Nepal-India border. Beyond.uptake also empowers data leaders through mentorship with its Data Fellows program, a six-month fellowship designed to connect data professionals at nonprofits, foundations and social enterprises to experts in data science.

Learn more here.