Tech Matters Launches as Independent Tech-for-Good Nonprofit; Initial Products Modernize Crisis Helplines and Support Community-led Climate Adaptation
Tech Matters’ mission-focused tech solutions enable nonprofit leaders to scale up social innovations
April 12, 2023 – Tech Matters, a tech-for-good organization focused on bringing the power of tech to social change leaders, is now a new independent nonprofit. Founded in 2019 by serial tech and social entrepreneur Jim Fruchterman, Tech Matters began its operations with fiscal sponsorship from Benetech, one of Silicon Valley’s original tech nonprofits which Fruchterman started in 1989. Fruchterman, a MacArthur Fellow, is a former rocket engineer who previously founded two successful for-profit high-tech companies, as well as numerous nonprofit tech enterprises.
“Tech Matters’ mission is to bring the benefits of technology to the 95% of humanity typically ignored by traditional tech companies,” said Fruchterman. “Thanks to strong support from risk-tolerant donors, and early operational support from Benetech, we are ready to scale up our work to ensure that modern technology is deployed for maximum social impact, not maximum profit. In order to solve the world’s pressing issues, social innovators need to better use software and data that can drive change faster and more effectively.”
Tech Matters has already launched AseloTM, an open source platform co-created with child helplines around the world that enables children in need to get help by texting in addition to traditional phone calls, with the goal of doubling or tripling the number of young people served by a helpline’s limited numbers of trained counselors. And in the next few months, Tech Matters will launch Terraso, a set of tools for local community leaders to address the realities of the climate crisis.
“We were excited to provide the initial funding when Jim Fruchterman developed the idea for Tech Matters, and a strategy for tech-enabled systems change in multiple sectors such as crisis hotlines for the world’s children,” said Tom Kalil, Chief Innovation Officer at Schmidt Futures. “Jim was one of the early successes of our Innovation Fellows Program, which supports mid-career leaders embarking on a new and high-potential enterprise. We’re eager to see Tech Matters continue to grow these two social enterprises while also helping other leaders apply tech for social impact.”
Tech Matters’ Aselo platform is currently being used by twelve national child helplines in Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America, with plans to launch with another ten helplines in 2023, including in North America. The Aselo team is currently working with Eastern European helplines to support Ukrainian-speaking children who are refugees.
“Tech Matters engaged our child helplines in every step of the development process,” said Jeroo Billimoria, head of the One Family Foundation and Catalyst 2030, and the founder of Childline India Foundation and Child Helpline International. “The result is a platform that maximizes helplines’ ability to meet children’s needs by customizing Aselo to support local languages, counselor needs, and critical reporting, while ensuring the privacy and security of the children’s data. I believe that Aselo has enormous potential to support the entire crisis response field.”
Tech Matters will soon be launching Terraso, its second tech-for-good platform, designed to give local communities access to unique tech tools. Terraso includes cloud software services and mobile applications, to build vibrant and more sustainable local economies in light of the accelerating impact of climate change. As part of these efforts, Tech Matters will ensure that the data collected by local communities is owned by them and used to benefit their interests. Terraso is being created as part of the 1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People initiative, with support from EcoAgriculture Partners, Rainforest Alliance, Commonland, Conservation International, and the United Nations Development Programme.
Beyond its two social enterprises, Tech Matters also works to help social sector leaders increase the effective use of technology to support systemic change through its “karmic consulting,” as well as writing and speaking on tech for good, and producing the “Tech Matters” podcast series featuring interviews with successful tech social entrepreneurs.
Tech Matters has raised more than $10 million since its founding from funders including Child Helpline International, Cisco Foundation, EcoAgriculture Partners, FJC, IFDC, the Jenesis Group, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, Meta, Okta, Peery Foundation, Rainforest Alliance, the Safe Online Initiative at End Violence, Schmidt Futures, Skoll Foundation, Twilio and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The new Tech Matters Board of Directors includes Brigitte Gosselink, Head of Product Impact at Google.org, where she leads initiatives that leverage emerging technologies and Google’s expertise to address global challenges; board chair Nithya Ramanathan, CEO and Co-founder of Nexleaf Analytics, a nonprofit technology company that designs and deploys technology and data solutions to help countries build resilient health systems; and Fruchterman.
Tech Matters’ 29-person team includes tech experts working from nine countries with a passion for social justice and a commitment to further positive social change. In addition to being a MacArthur Fellow, Fruchterman is a recipient of the Caltech Distinguished Alumni award and the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. He is also a fellow with the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, a sister program of the World Economic Forum
About Tech Matters
Tech Matters (TechMatters.org) is a nonprofit organization that leverages the power of tech to support social sector innovators and advance large-scale positive social change. As tech nerds for the social sector, we create common ground for systems change solutions, empowering progress on humanity’s most pressing social issues. Philanthropists, social sector innovators, potential employees, and technology companies interested in discussing opportunities with Tech Matters can contact the organization at info@TechMatters.org. Learn more at TechMatters.org and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.