Unlocking global access: Meet the Gateway Grantees strengthening democracy through the power of documents

Unlocking global access: Meet the Gateway Grantees strengthening democracy through the power of documents

Preserving the public record through new technologies, project partners will offer new ways to monitor elections, the environment and more

Written by
Edited by Michael Morisy

Today, the MuckRock Foundation is announcing five new recipients of Gateway Grants, which include a mix of financial, technical and editorial support for projects that support and strengthen transparency and access around the world.

Gateway Grants are supported through our partnership with the Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web (FFDW), which has been working with us and project partners to build a more resilient, scalable way to ensure humanity’s most important documents are preserved for the long term.

These five projects continue to bring together cutting-edge technology and at-risk documents collections to showcase new ways to preserve, analyze and share essential records in the face of global challenges.

Grantees have been awarded amounts ranging from $20,000 to $45,000 along with technical assistance for their projects. The resulting open source improvements to the platform will be available for use by all DocumentCloud users.

Each project will explore strategies for leveraging MuckRock’s DocumentCloud platform and decentralized web technologies like the Filecoin network and IPFS to ensure that the public can access important records now and in the future.

Meet the grantees

Correctional Association of New York | The Death Toll of Incarceration: Bringing Visibility to Mortality inside NY State Prisons

This project will collect, store, process and republish government data regarding deaths in state correctional facilities to increase transparency about the frequency and circumstances of mortality events in custody. The data poses a number of unique operational and technical challenges the project plans to overcome using DocumentCloud and new AI technologies.

Disclose | Memorializing future environmental crimes

This project seeks to save huge quantities of documents temporarily made public by local & national authorities in France during what are called “public enquiries,” the last step before large-scale industrial projects are authorized. Today, after this brief publication period, these documents are removed from public access. This project will offer visitors a permanent tool to archive these materials, helping impacted communities review and investigate the consequences of major industrial projects in France.

Open Vallejo | The Vallejo People’s Archive

The Vallejo People’s Archive will digitize and analyze historical documents from and relating to Vallejo, California to shed light on the city’s diverse history. The project will focus on digitizing, archiving and analyzing unique imperiled documents relating to racial justice, LGBT+ rights, women’s rights, labor issues and democracy. Through machine learning, the project will identify instances of police-related fatalities, addressing the city’s practice of destroying such records. The project’s aim is to empower Vallejo residents with a deeper understanding of their city’s history and serve as a model for other communities.

Lighthouse Reports | When Parrots Come Home to Roost: Enabling accountability investigations with Guacamaya’s mass data leak from Mexico’s Secretariat of National Defense

Lighthouse Reports and their local partners in Mexico will index more than 4 million emails from Mexico’s Ministry of Defense obtained by hacktivist group Guacamaya in late 2019 into a format accessible to smaller, less-resourced organizations that wish to tackle the full scope of the material. The communications include documentation on everything from the commission of grave human rights abuses to the president’s health problems.

Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism + Western Africa Hub | Empowering Democracy through Data Access and Investigative Reporting

This project seeks to bolster transparency in Nigeria’s 2023 elections by digitizing and analyzing vital election result papers, offering invaluable data insights to journalists. Leveraging MuckRock’s tools, they plan to transcribe and archive over 170,000 election documents in real time while preserving them permanently, enabling the network of newsrooms to investigate alleged election irregularities.

Subscribe to MuckRock’s weekly newsletter to learn more about the progress of our grantees and any updates or details about future grant opportunities and new transparency tools.

Meet the judges

We are grateful for the support and guidance provided by an amazing group of expert judges from the worlds of civic information, government transparency, journalism and technology for evaluating the applications received this round:

Damon Kiesow, Knight Chair in Journalism Innovation, University of Missouri School of Journalism

Dee Hall, founding managing editor, Wisconsin Watch

William Lager, senior editor and project manager, Reynolds Journalism Institute, Missouri School of Journalism

Brynn O’Donnell, program Manager of Social Impact, Filecoin Foundation & Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web

Ben Welsh, news applications editor, Reuters

Rebecca Williams, associate director of privacy & data governance, ACLU

Michael Morisy, cofounder and chief executive, MuckRock