The IFF Community Empowerment Program


Running the IFF Fellowship has given us vital experience that we want to share. We are excited to launch the Community Empowerment Program (CEP), a unique program designed to improve the skills of community organizers working in the internet freedom field. The CEP will identify, train, and empower them to nurture and safeguard their communities, and in turn, they will increase the resilience of human rights defender networks around the world.

At the IFF, we believe that the internet is a community of communities. As these communities grow, so does their demand for community development capacity and resources. Connecting and empowering diverse and inclusive communities is a fundamental aspect for the defense and promotion of internet freedom globally. However, most of the people who are building and engaging communities at  the intersection of human rights and tech don’t have access to resources to improve their community-building skill set.

The program will bring together a diverse cohort of 10 passionate community organizers from the internet freedom space, enhancing their skills in community building, secure organizing, physical/digital security training and facilitation, among others. The cohort will also play a key role in the IFF by reviewing and curating the IFF 2020 agenda. In addition, the CEP program will assist the cohort in obtaining resources to kick-start or grow their own community empowerment projects, and will provide exposure to strengthen and create ties between their local communities and other groups around the world.

The main activities for CEP participants will be: training and skill development through the length of the program; participating in the Community Empowerment Summit; developing/kick-starting a community empowerment project; performing community outreach for and curating the 2020 IFF program;  and participating and presenting at the 2020 IFF.

Who should apply

Apply if you have a passion for bringing together and empowering your community, even if your current title isn’t directly related to community building. We’re looking for individuals with demonstrated interest or experience working on community building initiatives around the intersection of human rights and technology, with preference given to those with backgrounds in digital security training, advocacy, communications and design, diversity and inclusion, journalism and media, grassroots movements, technology, and creative fields.

Logistical Considerations

Applicants should be able to:

1. Travel and participate in the Community Empowerment Summit in Valencia (Spain), October 20-22, 2019

2. Travel and participate and present at the IFF in Valencia (Spain), April 20-24, 2020

3. Dedicate an average of 8-12 hours to the CEP every month to the activities listed above.

Selection Criteria and Application Process

The selection criteria can be consulted online. The applicant consists of:

1. Applicant information

2. Application questions, including sharing an interesting community empowerment project idea that directly contributes to empowering a local/regional community of internet freedom defenders.

3. References.


Community Empowerment

Use the resources that the program and partners provides to kick-start/develop a community empowerment project during the period of the program.

Curate the IFF program by reviewing and selecting sessions from the open call for proposals.

Communications and Outreach

Map and reach out to local and regional internet freedom groups and individuals to ensure their participation in the IFF and engagement with the global community.

Write at least 2 blog posts or articles for the IFF blog.

Participate as a guest in one Glitter Meetup on the IFF Mattermost platform.

Thought Leadership

Participate in the Community Empowerment Summit in Valencia (Spain), October 20-22.

Inform the IFF’s program by sharing the local and regional challenges.


The Community Empowerment Program’s cohort will receive:

  • Skill development training program in secure community organizing for human rights defenders and grassroots communities.
  • Fully covered expenses to participate in the Community Empowerment Summit in October 2019 and the Internet Freedom Festival in April 2020, including travel, accommodation and a per diem. 
  • Assistance obtaining resources to kick-start or develop further a community empowerment project.
  • Featured program space at the 2020 IFF to present their community empowerment project.

Duration and Timeline

The program will have a duration of 8 months, running from September 2019 through May 2020:

August 2019

CEP applications open.

September 2019

CEP cohort is selected.

October 2019

20-22, Community Empowerment Summit in Valencia (Spain).

November 2019

Internet Freedom Festival call for proposals outreach.

December 2019

Internet Freedom Festival program curation.

February 2020

Individual community empowerment project reviews.

April 2020

20 – 24, community empowerment project presentations at the 2020 Internet Freedom Festival.

May 2020

Feedback and program evaluation.

The Community Development Training

The Community Development Training will be designed by the IFF team and conducted by professionals through online and in-person activities taking place in the months prior to the 2020 IFF. The Community Development Training will reflect the needs of the cohort and include topics such as:

Secure community organizing for human rights defenders

Physical/Digital security training

Facilitation skills

Internet freedom ecosystem overview

The Community Empowerment Summit – October 20-22, 2019

The Community Empowerment Summit will be a 3-day gathering for inspiration and training. Together, we will build a roadmap for the community empowerment projects of our cohort. Taking place in Valencia (Spain), the summit will also be the space for the cohort to provide thought leadership and strategy prior to the IFF opening its call for session proposals. Participants will take part in workshops on secure community organizing, digital security and other community topics, and we’ll learn more about each other’s communities, sharing learnings and best practices; and we’ll collect local and regional insights to guide the selection of issues that will be covered during the 2020 IFF.

The Community Empowerment Project

The CEP will assist the cohort to obtain resources to kick-start or develop further a community empowerment project of their own. Each community project will receive guidance on how to engage partner organizations in the Internet Freedom field working on similar issues/groups/regions.

Selection Process and Ideal Candidates

To be considered, applicants must:

  • Present an interesting community empowerment project idea that directly contributes to empowering a local/regional community of internet freedom defenders. Examples what projects:
    • A toolkit for community organizing in high-risk areas
    • Create and test community development indicators
    • Research strategies on how to better cultivate underrepresented voices within local networks
    • A pipeline to bring in young women, individuals from indigenous and/or afro-diaspora,  and/or other minority groups into the internet freedom field.
    • Design initiatives for increased online community engagement
    • Develop code of conduct processes that promote diversity and inclusion
    • Develop best practices in design for community builders working at the intersection of human rights and technology. 
    • A project to increase cross-regional collaboration. 
    • Develop a program to train and empower young community makers
    • Work to connect rural communities of women to the internet.
  • Have the ability to work independently with minimum supervision in collaboration with colleagues across different time zones.
  • Show strong organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills.
  • Be fluent in written and spoken English.
  • Participate in the curation of the 2020 IFF program.
  • Be able to travel to Valencia (Spain) in October 2019 (20-22) and in April 2020 (20-24). The associated participation costs (including visa support) will be fully covered by the program.