The new Internet Society Foundation has issued its first set of Beyond the Net Medium and Large Grants (ranging from $12,000 to USD $30,000 each) to 13 groundbreaking projects that seek to spread the benefits of the Internet around the world.
The Internet Society established the Internet Society Foundation to fund projects that will improve the quality of people’s lives everywhere. The Foundation awards grants to Internet Society Chapters as well as non-profit organizations and individuals dedicated to providing meaningful access to an open, globally-connected, and trusted Internet for everyone.
Of the more than 40 applications received this year, 13 projects were selected by a committee that evaluated projects based on criteria that included originality and innovation, community impact and sustainability, and technical feasibility, among others.
Projects that were selected for grants:
- $25,000 for a project in Turkey to raise a generation of digital citizens who do not participate in hate speech or cyberbullying. This will be done through an online platform, seminars, workshops, videos, and platforms in seven regions of Turkey. The project aims to sensitize some 5,000 people on the importance of “digital citizenship” through a series of materials and awareness-raising events.
- $30,000 to establish an innovative, open-source, solar-powered community network in an underserved rural area of the Caribbean island of Dominica, whose broadband connectivity was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. With resilience in mind, the new network is designed to be easily removed and redeployed before and after a storm. New hardware and software will be coupled with training for full community engagement.
- $29,050 to identify, evaluate, label and network smart-city projects and initiatives in Québec, Canada. The project will develop a diagnostic and decision-making tool, create a web platform to share smart city initiatives and best practices through a labelling competition, and organize a conference for elected officials and local actors involved in smart cities. The project will focus on services and applications developed through multistakeholder partnerships and based on emerging technologies.
- $30,000 to create Wi-Fi access points and an off-the-grid Media Center within the Mamaila Tribal Authority, South Africa. The project will also build community capacity through training on cybersecurity, content development, entrepreneurship, and the construction, operation, and maintenance of community networks. This aims to empower unemployed youth to organize themselves into cooperatives to advance their socioeconomic aspirations and expand the planned network infrastructure.
- $15,000 to provide Internet skills training in Armenia for un- or under-connected groups of people (people with disabilities, retired athletes, pensioners, and jobless school graduates). The project will boost Internet literacy and social media skills, while providing training on online job searching and how to set up small businesses. The ultimate goal is to help trainees become active and economically self-sufficient.
- $15,000 to install a solar-powered community network in a mountainous region of southwestern Paraguay, where expensive mobile data is the only way many residents can currently access the Internet. Wireless connection will be installed at three local schools, teachers will receive technical training, and community workshops will be offered on local content production.
- $15,000 will go towards strengthening the engagement and participation of data users in policymaking in Hong Kong. Using Hong Kong’s Open Data Index, initiated in September 2018 to examine data openness and introduce best practices, the project aims to drive positive change and develop at least two policy recommendations based on the Index by the end of 2020.
- $12,322 will go towards creating community networks for 5,000 people in three remote farming communities and awareness raising in Madagascar. The project will also provide technical training and basic Internet skills to a group of people who will train others to use the Internet to capture practical information for their economic development (such as on weather forecasts that can impact harvests and the prices of the agricultural products they sell).
- $25,000 for an online privacy and security campaign in Portugal that aims to raise awareness among kids, tweens, teens, and young adults. The project will include the Portuguese translation of existing Internet Society tutorials and the development of new ones; two contests for students; two events to launch the contest and two to showcase submissions; and funding to disseminate the student’s work.
- $13,800 for a project to upgrade Internet infrastructure in five high schools on Nicaragua’s southern coast – a region with a 14% Internet penetration rate and a 50% school dropout rate. The project will install fiber-optic Internet and high-speed Ethernet technology, outfit schools with a portable network, and provide Internet training for more sustainable communities.
- $30,000 to generate reliable statistical data on Internet use in Mali, in particular on the use/misuse of social media, which has become popular in both rural and urban areas. Most existing data has been produced by telecoms operators, for commercial ends, and results have not been made widely accessible. The results of this project, however, will be widely available through its publication and dissemination.
- $29,828 to create a community-controlled technology facility enabling residents in Harlem, New York to use the Internet to produce and stream news and informational programming for and about their community. This will provide a needed facility for an underserved population that has historically been denied significant opportunities to create and distribute positive media content and tell their own stories. It is estimated that nearly 50% of New York’s public housing population do not have Internet access at home.
- $30,000 for a project through the Internet Society Chapter in Switzerland to create an urban laboratory for collective learning and outreach as a platform to engage experts and the general public on important issues of digital self-defense, with a special focus on privacy and security. It will document the process and produce support material to help other networks in different cities create similar projects.
The Internet Society Foundation provides grants to the Internet community, Internet Society Chapters, nonprofits, and individuals working on one or more of the following program areas:
- Initiatives that build community capacity to access and benefit from the Internet (including digital literacy skills, reaching unconnected populations, awareness-raising and local content production);
- Initiatives that respond to natural disasters;
- Opportunities for research across technical, economic, and public policy topics;
- Initiatives that demonstrate innovative techniques to advance an Internet for all; and
- Local and regional projects supported by the Internet Society’s nearly 140 Chapters (Beyond the Net).
The Internet Society Foundation will launch its next call for grant applications in early 2020. More information on future calls for grants can be found at: https://www.isocfoundation.org/grant-programmes/.