May 7 2020 GM

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Community Updates

Conversation Topic: OTF's Community Prototype Fund

Tara Tarakiyee is Program Manager at Open Technology Fund, and they have been involved in Open Source and free web activism. Tara is passionate about people accessing and using the internet safely and securely.

Open Technology Fund developed the Community Prototype Fund as a way to complement OTF’s other funding mechanisms, so there are a couple of aspects that they are trying to cover with this fund.

  1. First is to help turn good ideas from community frontlines to actual prototypes that can later become full fledged internet freedom projects.
  2. Second is to help technologists interested in doing internet freedom work who might find working on public funding a bit daunting with a fund where they can test the waters by working on an IF project with a relatively smaller part-time effort.

You can check Open Tech Fund’s funding guide, it has an overview of our different funds and labs.

  • When asked if is better to apply to the Community Prototype Fund instead of the Internet Freedom Fund, Tara explained that when you have a project work plan that can be realistically achieved in 6-12 weeks, and costs less than $6000 USD, then the Community Prototype Fund is the place to go. Tara added that, if you just have a really good idea for a project but don't want to work on it, but you just think it should really exist, you can submit it to the Community Prototype Fund and OTF will reach out to their community and hopefully fund someone to do it.
  • One participant asked about the nature of the projects funded by the Community Prototype Fund, and if there's specific areas to be covered. Tara answered that OTF's remit is to help support people and projects who are working to help people access the internet safely and securely under repressive surveillance and censorship. Any applications under that scope are welcome. For example: it is important to cover technology development, technology deployment, infrastructure, adoption, training and awareness.
  • Tara specifies that workshops, training and events are not suited for the CPF but there are other support mechanisms Open Technology Fund have for those efforts. For example, for events, they do have their Community Lab.
  • Another limitation of the Community Prototype Funding is they it can't support access where there is no internet access, as this duplicates other USG funding, which is why OTF compiled this list of complementary and alternative funders.
  • When asked if there’s any specific countries that the Community Prototype Fund focuses on, Tara said that Open Technology Fund’s remit is countries under repressive surveillance and censorship. Unfortunately, that's a big geographic scope and OTF let applicants make their case to them. Tara explains that OTF is very unlikely to support an effort where the focus is not on the most affected populations by surveillance and censorship.
  • Finishing with the Glitter Meetup, we ask Tara what advice they have for people who are applying to OTF for the first time. Tara answers that applicants should read OTF’s application guide, and don't hesitate to provide OTF with feedback if anything is unclear, confusing or burdensome.