Deadline: 1 July 2020
The Open Technology Fund’s Core Infrastructure Fund supports the ‘building block’ technologies, infrastructures, and communities relied upon by digital security and circumvention tools strengthening Internet freedom, digital security, and the overall health of the Internet.
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The Core Infrastructure Fund (CIF) strives to uphold and increase capacity for individuals, organizations, and companies working to fortify the foundational components of demonstrably important technology relied upon by people in repressive countries.
Ideal applications are: open in nature, collaborative, promote a broader understanding of existing challenges and limitations, are preemptive in approach, and/or exist at the core of the Internet’s ecosystem. Common applicants come from the community of developers and organizers working on open-source projects recognized as critical dependencies of one or more active platforms or tools strengthening Internet freedom and digital security.
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Ideal applications for this fund focus on supporting:
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- Key developers or organizers so they can work full time on crucial core efforts in need of additional support;
- New developers or organizers focused on improving security standards, quality assurance, and best practices within core infrastructure projects;
- Developers, authors, or organizers drafting or promoting digital security and civil society needs within standards and protocols;
- Researchers exploring new methods of circumvention that would improve the resiliency of widely utilized tools;
- Specific outcomes, such as the necessary maintenance and upgrades to existing open source projects (database, hosting, or other tool migration; rewriting test suites; major new features);
- Efforts that make existing projects more accessible and easier to contribute to (ex. documentation, tool migration, refactoring code, testing);
- Efforts that develop new or evolve existing organizational and governance structures and sustainability models beyond work-for-hire;
- Efforts that increase the understanding and awareness of relevant actors in this space, their roles, and how they contribute to maintaining the Internet’s core ecosystem.
Problems addressed by the Core Infrastructure Fund:
- Many open source software technologies critical to access and security are underfunded and under-resourced.
- Core developers consistently face a lack of resources that would allow them to improve the foundational technologies relied on for free expression online.
- While potential new forms of circumvention are frequently identified by researchers, few are fully assessed let alone made available for integration
- Lack of funding for maintenance of essential Internet components leads to exploited vulnerabilities, such as happened in 2014 with the Heartbleed bug exploiting a vulnerability in the OpenSSL cryptographic protocol or the vulnerability in crypto library Libgcrypt affecting GNU Privacy Guard [GPG] and all its implementations.
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- Applications that request more than the award ceiling of $300,000 or less than the award floor of $5,000 may be deemed technically ineligible.
- OTF awards are generally 6 to 18 months in duration. From time to time, OTF may consider requests to extend existing contracts beyond previously agreed upon duration. Any such decision will be subject to availability of funds, satisfactory progress of the applicants, and a determination that continued funding would be in the best interest of program priorities.
Ideal applicants are proposing efforts within the scope of this fund and OTF’s mission, values, and principles. In addition, ideal applicants meet one or more of the following:
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- Individuals of all ages irrespective of nationality, residency, creed, gender, or other factors, with the exception that OTF is not able to support applicants within countries that the United States has trade restrictions or export sanctions as determined by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC);
- Non-profit organization/non-government organization, including U.S.-based NGO, PIO, or foreign NGO;
- Non-profit university or research institution in any country;
- For-profit organization or business in any country;
- Consortia of multiple people or organizations with one individual or organization designated as the lead applicant;
- Have demonstrated experience administering successful projects, preferably targeting the requested program area, or similarly challenging program environments where OTF reserves the right to request additional background information on organizations;
- Ideal applicants should not duplicate or simply add to efforts supported by other USG funding programs;
- Ideal applicants must not reflect any type of support for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization, whether or not elected members of government.
For more information, visit https://www.opentech.fund/funds/core-infrastructure-fund/