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Open Technology Fund: Core Infrastructure Fund

Deadline: November 1, 2019

The Core Infrastructure Fund (CIF) 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. 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. CIF’s mission is to support open technologies and communities that increase free expression, circumvent censorship, and obstruct repressive surveillance as a way to promote human rights and open societies. The primary focus is to support research, development, and implementation programs focused on increasing:

  • Access to the internet, including tools to circumvent website blocks, connection blackouts, and widespread censorship
  • Awareness of access, privacy, or security threats and protective measures, including how-to guides, instructional apps, data collection platforms, and other efforts that increase the efficacy of internet freedom tools
  • Privacy enhancement, including the ability to be free from repressive observation and the option to be anonymous when accessing the internet
  • Security from danger or threat when accessing the internet, including encryption tools

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.

Ideal applications focus on supporting:

  • 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

Organizations that feel their effort fits within the goals of this fund, but is not explicitly listed above, are also encouraged to apply.

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

Amount: Awards range from $5,000-$300,000.

Eligibility: 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 the Open Technology Fund (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)
  • Nonprofit organization/non-government organization, including U.S.-based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), Public International Organization (PIO), or foreign NGO
  • Nonprofit 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

Link: https://www.opentech.fund/funds/core-infrastructure-fund/

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