Data Refuge launched November 2016 in Philadelphia to draw attention to how climate denial endangers federal environmental data. With the help of thousands of civic partners and volunteers, the project has rapidly spread to over fifty cities and towns across the country. Now, Data Refuge is building a storybank to document how data lives in the world – and how it connects people, places, and non-human species. 

To learn more about Data Refuge and Data Stories, explore the following links: 

Thanks to generous support from the National Geographic Foundation, private donors, and a collaboration with the Libraries+ Network, Preserving Electronic Governance Initiative (PEGI), and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (PPEH) is organizing this national data storytelling initiative. Our shared goal is to extend the work of thousands of volunteers who participated last year in over forty local Data Rescue events, and to shine light on the ways federal environmental data impacts us everyday. This next chapter will include data storytelling events around the country and a culminating event at National Geographic’s headquarters in Spring 2019.

In conversation with many partners, such as you, we can build refuge for federal climate and environmental data vulnerable under an administration that denies the fact of ongoing climate change. We are committed to fact-based arguments, and Data Refuge works to preserve the facts we all need.

Data Rescue events create trustworthy copies of federal climate and environmental data (among other things), while the Internet Archive,, and a consortium of major research libraries holds these copies.

You can also give by mail.

What is DataRefuge?

DataRefuge is a public, collaborative project designed to address the following concerns about federal climate and environmental data:

  • What are the best ways to safeguard data?

  • How do federal agencies play crucial roles in data collection, management, and distribution?

  • How do government priorities impact data’s accessibility?

  • Which projects and research fields depend on federal data?

  • Which data sets are of value to research and local communities, and why?

DataRefuge is also an initiative committed to identifying, assessing, prioritizing, securing, and distributing reliable copies of federal climate and environmental data so that it remains available to researchers. Data collected as part of the #DataRefuge initiative will be stored in multiple, trusted locations to help ensure continued accessibility.

DataRefuge acknowledges--and in fact draws attention to--the fact that there are no guarantees of perfectly safe information. But there are ways that we can create safe and trustworthy copies. DataRefuge is thus also a project to develop the best methods, practices, and protocols to do so.

DataRefuge depends on local communities. We welcome new collaborators who want to organize DataRescue Events or build DataRefuge in other ways. 

There are many ways to be involved with building DataRefuge. They're not mutually exclusive!

Institutional Partners Building DataRefuge


Cover Image Copyright: Philip Flynn