JumpStart International began in 2003 with one American in Iraq who believed he could make a difference through engaging Iraqis in rebuilding their country. Within months, Sean O’Sullivan was working with 3,500 Iraqis to rebuild homes and offices. JumpStart was born and quickly developed a reputation for local empowerment and efficient operations that continues today. Learn more about our Iraq operations here.
In 2006, JumpStart brought its approach of engaging the local community through income-generating clearance and rebuilding projects to Gaza. JumpStart partnered with the University College of Applied Sciences in Gaza to support development of the Gaza Polytechnic Institute, building new capacity for technology education.
By 2008, JumpStart programs were engaging Jordanian and other youth from the region in an Amman-based project to build vocational skills in partnership with Kitegang.
JumpStart’s economic and skill development opportunities in under-resourced communities expanded to include community mapping in 2008, when we began mobilizing and training teams to map the West Bank, and in 2009, Gaza, creating the first-ever public domain geographic data set for Palestine. Also in 2009, JumpStart supported mapping of Kibera, a community of one million people living in a slum of Nairobi, Kenya.
In September 2009, JumpStart provided seed funding for a mapping project in the Shida Kartli region of the Republic of Georgia. The group engaged in mapping Shida Kartli became the foundation for Open Maps Caucasus, which evolved into JumpStart Georgia.
JumpStart’s efforts to engage communities in mapping built not only new technical capacity in data creation, but also new social capital through connecting a community. In addition, we realized for the local community to be able to leverage the data to fulfill its potential, investment was needed beyond data collection. JumpStart believed support to build a lasting entity would provide local mapping participants the infrastructure needed to form a sustainable organization and nurture a network of social entrepreneurs invested in open access to information.
JumpStart Georgia is the South Caucasus’ leading innovator in data journalism. JumpStart Georgia uses data and design to make complex issues easier for people to understand, equipping them for fact-based discussions and decision-making. JumpStart Georgia is a lab for the development of twenty-first century storytelling through data and design, and works with people and organizations to help them use data effectively.
JumpStart International supports this Tbilisi-based organization with financial and technical support. JumpStart Georgia is building sustainable capacity for not only generating but also effectively using open data, and in the process, growing a hub of social entrepreneurs in the South Caucasus who are on the leading edge of development and design.