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NetHope 2017 Device Challenge by the Numbers: One Year Later

NetHope is pleased to share updates from our Device Challenge grantees and how they are bettering communities around the world.

September 19, 2018

By Lisa Obradovich

The 17 grantees who were awarded funds from the 2017 NetHope Device Challenge have been extremely busy since the project’s inception just over one year ago. From programs opening doors for deaf children in Pakistan to transforming the lives of refugees, NetHope is pleased to share updates from our Device Challenge grantees and how they are bettering communities around the world.

The Device Challenge began with $5.5 million in funding thanks to a grant from, the charitable arm of Google, to purchase and deploy devices (phones, tablets, PCs) to aid in innovative humanitarian and conservation efforts that span both geographies and sectors. With hundreds of submissions, the field was narrowed to the 17 finalists.

Mercy Corps' project providing devices for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda was a recent winner of NetHope's Gold Star awards for innovation.

The original goal was to ensure the distribution of at least 20,000 devices, benefiting at least 100,000 people in the target population. NetHope is pleased to share the the grantees have significantly exceeded these goals with grantees purchasing 37,545 devices and deploying 27,946 of those as of July 2018.  A total of 38,283 devices are expected to be deployed by the end of 2018, surpassing the original goal by 91 percent. We are particularly proud that over 50 percent of the 133,116 direct beneficiaries impacted by the program are women and girls. Grantees report a total of over 24 million indirect beneficiaries across 34 countries being reached by their efforts. Devices have been collectively used for 18.7 million hours as of July 31, and that number continues to grow daily.

A snapshot of the achievements that have taken place in the last quarter includes:

  • Management Sciences for Health incorporated their plague contact-tracing module into their application’s scale-up and roll-out in Madagascar.
  • Norwegian Refugee Council partnered with ASU to provide an accredited English course online with support from community volunteers.
  • Anudip has trained 2,351 students in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh states in India through their digital livelihood training program with 70 percent of those students finding full-time employment upon completion of the program.
  • Concern Worldwide, through the Irish Refugee Council, held a laptop distribution event in Dublin that has transformed the lives of refugees working to integrate into their new communities.
  • FINCA has rolled out their Digital Field Automation (DFA) program which allows customers to open accounts remotely in less than 10 minutes ― a tremendous improvement from the previous process that required travel to a bank and took 30-45 minutes.
  • Family Education Services Foundation created 275 Pakistani Sign Language (PSL) Tutorials and Stories, added 2,000 PSL Words/Signs to their PSL Dictionary, and created 150 Teacher Training Tutorials.
  • SOS Children’s Villages International in Benin has become certified as an ICDL center and has started offering that training to beneficiaries.
  • Pact, Inc.’s MyWorth application training in Tanzania trained a total of 1,271 girls on digital literacy, budgeting, and entrepreneurship.

We also recently announced two of our subgrantees being named the "Gold Star" award recipients: Mercy Corps and The Nature Conservancy for exceptional work that was innovative and effective. We’ll be sharing personal stories from participants in each of the above programs in the weeks ahead on the Solutions Center Device Challenge page.


The NetHope Device Challenge, a collective impact subgrant program to help nonprofits advance their respective missions through the use of phones, tablets, and other hardware, awarded grants to 17 organizations. Winners were selected from a highly competitive pool of over 300 applications from more than 60 countries around the world.

The program was made possible thanks to a $5.5 million award from, the charitable arm of Google. has proven to be one of NetHope’s staunchest supporters, offering funding and resources at critical times. This grant was part of a larger initiative from, which donated $30 million to nonprofits during the 2016 holiday season, and a total of $100 million to nonprofits in 2016.

 More information on the Device Challenge program can be found here

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