Open Technology Fund Now Accepting Applications for Its Free and Open Source Software Sustainability Fund

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Ms Laura Cunningham, President, Open Technology Fund

The Open Technology Fund (OTF), an independent non-profit organization committed to advancing global Internet freedom, is now accepting applications for its Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Sustainability Fund aimed at supporting established projects and the communities that sustain them as well as ensuring that they have the resources and support needed for long-term maintenance, security, and well-being.

The FOSS Sustainability Fund was launched in 2023 with support from Schmidt Futures’ Plaintext Group, Omidyar Network, Okta, and GitHub. In addition to supporting critical technologies, the initiative also helps to match OTF’s Congressional funding with non-federal resources and deliver on OTF’s mandate to maximize cooperation between public and private sectors.

Funding awards are performance-based contracts signed directly with the applicant or applicants. Successful applicants will be funded upon completion of stated objectives, activities, and deliverables as outlined in the contract. All payments are made in U.S. dollars and will comply with local laws, regulations, and ethics rules.

Successful applicants are paired with an OTF program manager who will oversee all project monitoring and evaluation for the duration of the contract.

Monitoring and evaluation assessments will be based on predetermined and agreed-upon metrics, deliverables, and goals as laid out by the applicant in the project proposal.

OTF expects to fund up to four projects ranging from $150,000 to $400,000, subject to fund availability. The funding will be provided for approximately 24 months.

The Fund is open to all internet freedom FOSS tools, apps, open standards, protocols and libraries, that have come into shape from inception to development and are seeking to work on the sustainability of the project beyond initial release.

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following qualifying conditions: Software must have been released for at least 3 years; the project should release updates at least 4 times a year; there must have been active coding on the software in the last 2 years; the project must have a substantial base of active users if it is an app or other user-facing tool and lastly, OTF aims to support projects with many dependencies, to maximize long-term impact in the broader FOSS ecosystem.

Individuals or organizations (for-profit or nonprofit) of all ages irrespective of nationality, creed, or sex are encouraged to apply.

Applicants within countries where the United States has trade restrictions or export sanctions as determined by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will not be supported.

The following areas of long-term sustainability are illustrative and not meant to be exhaustive, and some activities naturally overlap across different areas. Applicants are welcome to propose new sustainability areas and activities of sustainability so long as the proposal makes a strong justification for them.

Maintenance: These are the technical activities essential to ensure long-term sustainability. These can be corrective (patching bugs or remediating vulnerabilities), adaptive (modifying to a changing environment), or enhancing (rebuilding or upgrading based on user feedback or improving efficiency). Examples include Codebase migration; Code refactoring; Infrastructure upgrades; Architecture rebuilds; Security upgrades and enhancements; Responding to new threat models; Clearing bug backlog and Usability and accessibility improvements.

Operations: These activities run the gamut of things needed to ensure a project remains operationally active. They include both the technical and social elements, and center on improving contributor productivity, open source viability, and project stability. Examples include Refined contributor workflows; Project management; Accounting; Code optimization and styling; Improved licensing; Aligning with open source principles; Testing infrastructure; Updating documentation; Creating and following a sustainable business plan; Software evaluations and Long-term strategic planning

Community: These community activities center on the health and well-being of the contributor base, and the engagement of and responsiveness to users. Examples include Ecosystem well-being; Community management; Governance; Organizational health; Improving diversity; Growing contributor base; Improving user feedback loops; Contributor and user communications; Language localization as well as Visuals and website

Applicants applying for the FOSS Sustainability Fund will undergo a two-stage application process: the requirement to submit a Concept Note through OTF’s online application system and share their project ideas through a short form; and invitation to applicants whose concept notes have been accepted to submit a proposal in which they will expand upon their project idea.

The FOSS Sustainability Fund Advisory Council, comprising subject-matter experts who understand the relevant fields and issues related to the sustainability of the FOSS ecosystem, will conduct a final review of competitive proposals.

Applicants are to review the Applicant Guidebook for additional information about the application process, especially the Concept Note Guide and Review Process sections.

For questions, please contact hello@opentech.fund.  

Submission of applications closes on May 17, 2024.