About our program

Recognizing COVID-19 Data Heroes

The Data Access, Transparency and Advocacy (DATA) Group rewards those whose commitment to our core values improved the lives of those in their respective communities.

While a handful of nominees will be finalists to win a small, monetary prize, the aim of this project is to give recognition to those who have made data a central element of their efforts and communications during COVID-19.

All data hero submissions will be featured on our website, regardless of whether they become finalists or not.

The primary goal of this project is recognition, not competition.


Nominees were submitted through an online form that was open to the public through the month of February 2021. You can view all nominees on our web map here.

Please note that we will continue to accept submissions going forward so that we may continue to build the list of resources providing COVID-19 data across the country. No further submissions will be considered for the award, though.

From the pool of more than 400 unique nominees, our board reviewed the submissions and narrowed the group to 25 finalists in five different groups:

  1. The Newcomers, recognizing five young, talented individuals who may be new to the data-science scene, but are making an immediate and profound impression. Each of the nominees in our Newcomers group are students, from high school to doctoral studies, and each made a tangible difference in their community from their efforts in communicating the data to the public.
  1. The Specialists, rewarding a a group made of five amazing doctors, researchers and academics who dedicated their time and energy to furthering our collective understanding of the disease and its trends through their use of data-driven communications.
  1. The Professionals, five nominees whose experience in producing high-quality data reporting applications played an integral role in keeping the public informed of the facts during COVID-19. From early-career scientists to executives of software companies, this group used their talents in data science and communication to build applications, deliver free and public data resources, and communicate the nuances of data and data reporting.
  1. The Press, five carefully-chosen members of the media whose vital role in informing the public through data- and science-based journalism has never been more vital nor difficult. Our nominees for members of the press who made data central to their COVID-19 reporting ranged from small-time newspaper writers to national and prime-time network news anchors. To review nominees in our press cohort, we developed a unique set of questions based on each nominee’s media portfolio and body of work related to data and data reporting during COVID-19.
  1. The Provocateurs, five nominees serving the critical role of advocates for data access, transparency, and advocacy, even when it became difficult and even dangerous to do so. The five nominees in this cohort represent the best cross-section of every other group, and who made advocacy and a commitment to transparency and data access the primary focus of their efforts.

Some of the criteria used to evaluate submissions include:

  • Does the nominee regularly, transparently and accurately report data and data analysis about COVID-19?
  • Is the nominee’s primary focus data and data analysis, or reporting on data and data analysis?
  • Has the nominee advanced their community’s understanding of COVID-19 through data, analysis or information?
  • Has the nominee used creative and innovative approaches in reporting data, analysis and information about COVID-19?
  • Has the nominee encountered opposition or even retaliation for their work? How did the nominee respond to those pressures?

Through this process, we narrowed down our finalists.

Online voting opens Friday, March 5, and will continue through March 30, 2021.

You can vote for one finalist out of each cohort. We ask that you review each finalist’s profile before casting a vote, and that you share each of our amazing nominees with your own social and community networks. Each nominee is deserving of the final prize and all of the praise that comes with it.


Each of our five-member judging panel will review the finalists and submit their choices. We will announce the members of the judging panel after the final awards are announced to avoid any “courting” of our judges by finalists. The results from online voting will represent one vote out of the five-member panel.

We also interviewed and included profiles for a number of nominees who did not become finalists, which you can view by browsing by state or by cohort using the menu at the top of the page. We will continue to build profiles and add submissions as we receive them.

We want to thank everyone who submitted the hard-working newcomers, professionals, specialists, press and provocateurs last month. The goal of this project centered on gathering resources and celebrating those who put blood, sweat and tears into communicating data and keeping their communities informed.

We will continue to update the list of nominees, profile pages, and our map of our data heroes as we continue to process submissions


The DATA Group’s core values commit us to advancing Data Access, Transparency & Advocacy (DATA) across disciplines.

To learn more, contact us at: Contact@data-usa.org

Our Founder

Florida scientist and whistleblower Rebekah Jones founded our organization as a way to reward those who work to improve life through data.

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The DATA Group

Data – Using sound, scientific methods for data collection, analysis and reporting
Access – Ensuring free and open-source access to data for all
Transparency – Documentation and full transparency about data methods, analysis and results
Advocacy – Campaigning for data and science-based decision making, from the local to the federal level.