2019 Open Technology Fund announces Internet Freedom Fund

Deadline: 1 May 2019

Open Technology Fund has announced the Internet Freedom Fund which is a primary way to support projects and people working on open and accessible technology-centric projects that promote human rights, internet freedom, open societies, and help advance inclusive and safe access to global communications networks for at-risk users including journalists, human rights defenders, civil society activists, and every-day people living within repressive environments who wish to speak freely online.

Award Information

  • OTF awards are performance-based contracts (see an example template here) signed directly with the applicant. Payment is issued on completion of stated objectives, activities, and deliverable per a schedule outlined in the contract. OTF reserves the right to award less or more than the funds requested as deemed in the best interest of OTF’s priorities.
  • Applications that request more than the award ceiling of $900,000 or less than the award floor of $10,000 may be deemed technically ineligible. Note that OTF’s target support ceiling is $300,000, with most supported efforts receiving between $50,000 and $200,000.

Project and Budget Periods

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.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Ideal applicants are making use of, support, or develop open and accessible technologies promoting human rights and open societies, and help advance inclusive and safe access to global communications networks. In addition, ideal applicants meet one or more of the following:
    • 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.

Ideal applications for this fund are focused on:

  • Creating new open source circumvention technologies that fill a current need of targeted users;
  • Improving the security, usability, and adaptability of existing open source internet freedom technologies;
  • Providing new or deeper insights into the challenges of front-line communities that ultimately contribute to the improvement of technological solutions;
  • Projects that emphasize applied research;
  • Research that focuses on real-time monitoring and analysis of both technical and political threats to internet freedom, including network interference and shutdowns;
  • New content redistribution methods able to reintroduce content behind firewalls, or similar services;
  • Making targeted communities more resilient to digital attacks via customized solutions in-line with OTF criteria;
  • Creating new open source circumvention technologies that fill a current need of targeted users;
  • Next-generation tools that move beyond traditional “cat-and-mouse” circumvention techniques;

Criteria

  • Quality of project idea: Applications should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the mission of promoting freedoms of expression, assembly, and association online.
  • Ability to achieve objectives: A relevant work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and logistical capacity of the organization. The work plan should adhere to the overview and guidelines described above. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable. After this application, OTF will request a full proposal, where applicants will have to provide a monthly timeline of project activities.
  • Cost effectiveness: Any overhead and administrative components included in the application should be kept as low as possible. All items should be necessary and appropriate. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged and is viewed favorably by OTF.
  • Multiplier effect/sustainability: Applications should address how the expected results will contribute to improving internet freedom goals. Applications should address how the effort will be sustained in the long-term.
  • Applicants’ record and capacity: OTF will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the project’s objectives.

How to Apply

Applicants can apply online via given website.

For more information, please visit https://www.opentech.fund/funds/internet-freedom-fund/

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