Jun 13, 2024 Press Release

Robin Hood and Tech:NYC Announce the Decoded Futures Partnership

Decoded Futures will connect New York City-based tech companies with social service nonprofits to strengthen organizational capacity for using AI, improving the delivery of social services that millions of New Yorkers depend upon to survive.

NEW YORK, NY — During last week’s New York City Tech Week, Robin Hood and Tech: NYC announced an expansive, first-of-its-kind partnership connecting tech providers and their intermediaries with New York City’s nonprofit sector to identify and explore transformative AI-powered solutions for social service delivery in the nation’s largest city. 

The partnership, Decoded Futures by the Tech:NYC Foundation, is a new initiative that blends innovation with technical expertise, lived experiences, and social impact. The initiative is seeded by funding from the Robin Hood Learning + Technology Fund and Google. Beginning with a research phase, the initiative is expected to build substantial AI capacity within the NYC nonprofit sector, starting with 115 education and workforce nonprofits in the first two years before expanding to other social service sectors. 

“Organizations supporting people living in poverty must have access to AI skills, competencies, and tools that will make their work more effective,” said Rich R. Buery, Jr., CEO of Robin Hood. “That’s why Decoded Futures is game-changing. It enables nonprofits and their clients to shape the tech solutions they want to deploy. This collaborative approach will help determine what solutions will and will not foster greater opportunities for New Yorkers in need. AI shouldn’t be something done to people living in poverty; rather, people living in poverty and the organizations who serve them must be part of developing AI solutions.”

A 2023 survey of grantees funded through the Robin Hood Learning + Technology Fund found 85% were interested in learning about AI, but less than 15% have ever engaged in any AI-related learning or activity. More telling, only 10% of the Fund’s grantees have in-house technology expertise or budget resources to acquire the necessary personnel. Without active engagement by the nonprofit and government sectors and the diverse communities they serve, the tech industry maintains an outsized influence which could exacerbate inequities.

“As the tech sector increasingly powers more of the city’s economy, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that it’s not just the private sector who benefits, but also all New Yorkers,” said Julie Samuels, President and CEO of Tech:NYC. “Through Decoded Futures, we will ensure that the private sector and human service organizations work together to ensure inclusive and user-friendly adoption of AI technology.”

The Tech:NYC Foundation harnesses a powerful network of technology leaders with a commitment to building an equitable, inclusive New York,” said Bryan Lozano, Director of the Tech:NYC Foundation. “Decoded Futures is our initiative to ensure that our city’s nonprofits can leverage the same technology that draws businesses from around the world to our thriving ecosystem. By identifying the needs and putting these resources in the hands of nonprofits, our goal is to exponentially increase their impact.”

Millions of New Yorkers rely on nonprofit service organizations for economic empowerment, tutoring and educational support skills training, and other essential services for a pathway to economic success. With more than 46,000 nonprofits in New York City, the sector plays an outsized role in supporting teachers with customized curricula, students with supplemental tutoring, and workers with new career skills and pathways to well-paying careers.

“Through Decoded Futures we will empower nonprofits to not only embrace AI but also to shape its course, ensuring that this new emerging technology becomes a force for inclusion and opportunity. Beginning with the education and workforce sectors, this initiative can help bridge the gap between interest in AI learning and actual real-world AI applications.” said Jake Porway, entrepreneur-in-residence, Decoded Futures, and co-founder of DataKind. “In a city where millions rely on nonprofits, this initiative isn’t just groundbreaking; it’s a lifeline.”

“Google is proud to support nonprofits and tech providers in the workforce development and education in NYC by supporting this critical, cross-sector initiative,” said Sarah (Hendo) Henderson Rosenberg, Senior Manager Tech Education Outreach, Google. “Empowering these professionals with AI skills will not only enhance their daily work but also drive significant positive learning impact in our communities. This is a crucial step in ensuring that nonprofits can leverage the transformative power of AI to better serve those in need.” 

Earlier this year, in February, Robin Hood hosted its AI Summit: Opportunity x AI, which featured leaders from tech, academia, finance, and social impact to showcase solutions driving the AI revolution and how innovation is paving the way for opportunity and social impact. The conference attracted more than three dozen speakers, including Daniela Amodei, Scott Belsky, Sal Khan, Alexis Ohanian, Angela Pinsky, Zachariah Reitano, Kate Ryder, Julie Samuels, Reshma Saujani, Deena Shakir, Hemant Taneja, and others. The Summit concluded with the launch announcement of the AI Poverty Challenge, a national competition to advance effective and equitable uses of AI that broaden opportunity and support upward mobility for people living in poverty. Learn more about the Challenge here.

Anyone interested in supporting this project or staying apprised of its progress can register their interest at https://decodedfutures.nyc. The Decoded Futures team is currently refining its landscape of AI needs and AI support in the city, and they encourage any nonprofits or tech companies that want to share their needs or offerings around AI to sign up as well.


About Robin Hood:

Robin Hood is New York’s largest local poverty-fighting philanthropy. Last year, Robin Hood celebrated its 35th year of funding, supporting, and connecting New York’s most impactful community organizations at the forefront in the battle against poverty. We are NYC’s largest local poverty-fighting philanthropy and since 1988, we have invested nearly $3 billion to elevate and fuel New Yorkers’ permanent escapes from poverty. In 2023, through grantmaking with 250+ community partners, we created pathways to opportunities out of poverty through our strategic partnerships on child care, child poverty, jobs, living wages and more. We are scaling impact at a population level for the nearly 2 million New Yorkers living in poverty. At Robin Hood, we believe your starting point in life should not define where you end up. To learn more about our work and impact, follow us on X  @RobinHoodNYC or go to robinhood.org.

About Tech:NYC:

Tech:NYC is an engaged network of technology leaders working to foster a dynamic, diverse, and creative New York. The organization works with policymakers and business leaders to support a successful technology ecosystem, attract and retain talent, and celebrate New York and the companies that call it home. Tech:NYC represents ~800 New York tech companies. www.technyc.org.


Kevin Thompson, Managing Director of Communications, Robin Hood