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Tech for Social Good, 2021 Recap

Mala Kumar image

Mala Kumar @malakumar85

Director of Tech for Social Good, GitHub Social Impact
Cynthia Lo image

Cynthia Lo @csmlo

Program Manager, Skills-Based Volunteering, GitHub Social Impact
Camaley Jennings image

Camaley Jennings @camaleyjennings1

Marketing & Project Manager, GitHub Social Impact

December 13, 2021 // DevelopersSkills-Based VolunteeringPartnerships

Published on: December 13, 2021

A Year of Reflection

We can’t believe that 2021 is nearly over! At the start, we had hoped that this year would usher in a post-COVID-19 world. While progress is being made, the reality is that we’re still contending with a pandemic and working large physical distances away from each other. However, through these trying times, we’ve had many opportunities to connect and collaborate with our partners, communities and networks. We’re thankful for everything we have achieved together! Below is a recap of GitHub Social Impact’s Tech for Social Good work in 2021, as well as what to expect from us and how to get involved in 2022.

What we did in 2021

Program Highlights

The MERL Center

Thanks to our incredible community, the MERL Center website launched in September! Read about the launch here. Together, we published nine new pieces of content and have several more coming. A special thanks to Stephanie Coker of TCC Group for driving our content forward.

The MERL Center also welcomed nine new members, including our first from Zimbabwe.

Skills-Based Volunteering

We launched over 20 projects on security risk assessments, technical consulting, legal consultation, and go-to-market strategic planning. More than 85 GitHub employees engaged in our projects from the USA, Canada, India, France, and the United Kingdom. Read about our Mobile Pathways project case study here!

At GitHub Universe, we launched an open source version of a Skills-Based Volunteering Repo to help organizations and companies start their own program.

United Nations (UN) collaborations

To coincide with the UN General Assembly (UNGA), we joined the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA). Read more about the membership here. If you want to learn more about our work with the DPGA, check out this post. We also launched a Skills-Based Volunteering project with the DPGA. Several other Skills-Based Volunteering projects were with the UN.

We continued our collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), spending much of the year helping it launch its forthcoming Open Source Programme Office (OSPO), which we will detail more in 2022. In December, we also met some of our WHO colleagues in person! GitHub-WHO-Berlin-Dec2021 Pictured: Mala and Camaley from GitHub with Dusan, Marc and Patricia from WHO - Berlin, Dec 2021

Open Source Software (OSS) Research

We launched our second OSS research project, this one focusing on India, Kenya, Egypt, and Mexico. Read about why we selected low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) for this project here. The final report is slated to be launched in Spring 2022.


With feedback from our partners, we relaunched our GitHub Social Impact site (this one!) and added the Tech for Social Good and Insights pages.

In collaboration with our Policy team, we opened the GitHub Standardized Metrics request for proposals (RFP) and selected a firm. More information is coming in 2022.

Conference Highlights

In case you missed them, below are highlighted conferences at which we spoke or moderated. For more talks, check out the Media section on our Insights page.

Conference / Panel Description Link
United Nations General Assembly Side Event, hosted by the UN Tech Envoy and the DPGA Mala spoke on open source in the UN system as part of a panel on open source to open culture. Watch here
OSS Research in the Social Sector in LMICs, GitHub Universe Mala and Camaley joined Gina Assaf and Priyanka Pathak, the lead researchers, on why the new research project was launched and on the four focus countries of the research project. Watch here
Building tech in the Humanitarian Sector, GitHub Universe Cynthia interviewed Cassie Seo on how the Norwegian Refugee Council approaches building technology for humanitarian challenges. Watch here
Technology as a Tool for Good, Agri-D Convention, hosted by Croply Mala spoke on a panel about tech in food security and agriculture. Watch here

What to expect from us in 2022

Upcoming blog posts

  • How our work in 2021 mapped to the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Updates with the Digital Public Goods (Alliance)
  • Updates on our work with the World Health Organization
  • The launch of our research project on standardized GitHub metrics for international development, economics, and public policy researchers
  • Information on the second MERL Center stipend
  • More Skills-Based Volunteering case studies

How to get involved in the New Year

Please fill out this form if you want to join the MERL Center and check back in February for information on the next MERL Center stipend. As always, please reach out if your organization has a Skills-Based Volunteering project idea! We’re also looking for topic suggestions for our blog and new partnerships. Email us at

Thank you again to our partners, community members, and colleagues for making 2021 a success! We’re looking forward to the coming year as we continue to grow our programming and strengthen the social sector’s efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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