March 27, 2018 | Accelerate Good Global

4 Things We Learned at Accelerate Good Global 2018

It’s been three weeks since Accelerate Good Global, the only summit dedicated to the tech nonprofit sector, wrapped, but we’re still riding on that tech for good buzz. On March 6 and 7th, we convened nearly 500 individuals, including tech nonprofit entrepreneurs leading product companies, philanthropists, experienced technologists, and folks who simply believe in the power of tech for good. It was a transformative two days, filled with content and conversations that we never hear elsewhere.

I built new relationships, I was challenged, and I was further exposed to the rapidly evolving tech for good space.

–Accelerate Good Global Attendee

We spend months crafting our dream agenda of speakers and conversations, inviting attendees, and building the experience that will best serve the tech for good community. But for the past two years, we have still been blown away by our own personal experiences at Accelerate Good Global. It’s one thing to think about all of these conversations and activations, but seeing them come to life in a room filled with 500 of our favorite people is something else entirely.

While we don’t thematically curate content around a particular pillar each year, the overarching theme is all things tech nonprofit or tech for good. This year a few themes clearly arose from both on-stage conversations and audience interaction. Here’s what we’re still thinking about, thanks to AGG:

The products we need to solve social issues are not being built by white men.

We were absolutely delighted by how taken the audience was with tech nonprofit entrepreneurs who gave 4 minute lightning talks throughout the two days. We’ve found that lived experience with a social problem is a powerful asset for anyone building tech to solve said issue. Entrepreneurs who’ve experienced social issues are best suited to solve them. That’s why 78% of our alumni have a co-founder who is a woman or person of color.

Where’s the diversity in tech? Here, solving problems that deeply impact people’s lives. #AGG18

– Accelerate Good Global Attendee

Brandon Anderson shared the story of how losing his partner to police violence motivated him to build a product to radically improve transparency around policing. Laura Gómez told us how growing up in Palo Alto, her parents cleaned the homes of tech founders – and today she is the CEO of a software company that helps startups increase diversity in their workforce. And DeRay inspired us all, telling us, “we have the power to dream of something new” and that, “the people closest to the problem are the best suited to create the solution.” We need more leaders like DeRay McKesson, Laura Gomez, and Brandon Anderson building tech for good and driving the conversation around how we can create change together.

Data informs everything.

Data and artificial intelligence were undercurrents throughout most conversations at AGG. We’re at an early turning point in these technologies. The ultimate potential of AI is yet to be realized, yet it’s impacting us daily – in possibly equal parts positive and negative. For every Facebook privacy infringement, there’s a story like that of how Nancy Lublin and Bob Filbin use data and machine learning to identify youth suicide risk through unexpected words like “ibuprofen” and escalate these cases. Sixto Cancel, CEO of Think of Us, spoke about how, “integrating tech and data introduces a level of accountability that [he] think scares folks.” His product, Think of Us, helps foster youth ease through the transition of exiting foster care. The data they collect will eventually inform child welfare at large.

And Sean White, VP of Emerging Technology at Mozilla, spoke to why open sourcing is so critical if we want to remove the biases that have seemed inherent to big data thus far.

I LOVED the wide range of provocative topics that were explored along with of course the sheer inspiration of what the entrepreneurs  are doing to make the world a better place.

– Accelerate Good Global Attendee

Mentorship works.

This year we tried something new – we brought our Accelerator mentorship experience to the summit. Would it work with a broader audience in a less structured environment?

For a first go, we were thrilled with how it worked out at AGG this year! Tech nonprofits thrive when they have the support and wisdom of experienced technologists, and Fast Forward’s mentorship program enables this to happen.

One of our founders reported that thanks for AGG mentorship, she raised $100K in commitments for pro-bono developer support, others reported making valuable connections through mentorship that could turn into long-term support, and one Okta mentor, Matt Raible, wrote an inspiring blog post about his experience! From formal micro-mentoring to off-the-cuff conversations in the Comcast Lounge, the advice given and received is already having an impact.

Technology alone won’t solve our problems.

We say it all the time, tech scales social impact. But we also realize an app, platform, or chatbot won’t save the world on its own. The tech nonprofit sector will thrive when all of us work together.

In just two days at AGG we saw new partnerships and ideas begin to form, all because of the unique blend of people in the room. Megan Smith spoke about this a lot, that it’s not just one person thinking of a solution and running with it. It takes everyone – the entrepreneurs, the funders, the community organizers, the technologists – to make great social impact ideas work. As Megan said on stage, “You find amazing people who have amazing insights and the energy to do it, then you come up underneath them to support them.”

We hope that everyone left Accelerate Good Global with new ideas as to how they can start or support the next amazing tech nonprofit ideas. And if you already have something in the works, we hope you’ll consider applying to join our 2018 accelerator cohort.

Thanks to everyone who joined us at Accelerate Good Global this year, and to our incredible partners Google.org, Comcast NBCUniversal, BlackRock, Omidyar Network, GM, Twilio.org, AWS, Okta, Box.org, Salesforce.org, Silicon Valley Bank, and S’well. We can’t wait to do it all over again next year!

Click here to view photos from the summit!