Digital Infrastructure Research Grants

Digital Infrastructure Research Grants

Digital Infrastructure Research Grants

This RFP is being funded again by Ford Foundation and Sloan Foundation as well as Mozilla and Open Society Foundations.

In order to better understand the incentives and constraints that influence the maintenance of digital infrastructure, in 2018 the Sloan and Ford Foundations funded a portfolio of 13 research projects.

In some cases the findings of these projects open up further questions, while in others they suggest interventions that could strengthen community practices.

To continue to advance this agenda, this RFP invites proposals to further study the maintenance of digital infrastructure.

Among the questions that could be addressed by such research are:

  • What makes digital infrastructure “critical”? How should support for digital infrastructure projects be prioritized, and by whom? How can the value of digital infrastructure be quantified through economic, social, security, or other measures?
  • How might we assess the reliability of digital infrastructure? What incentives and supports might foster more robust auditing and maintenance?
  • What is the role that companies and other private institutions should play in maintaining a stable ecosystem of open source technology, and with what kinds of accountability mechanisms? What are the trade-offs between private sector, government, university, civil society, and/or volunteer maintenance of digital infrastructure?
  • How can communities that maintain digital infrastructure best be sustained? What are the unique challenges of diversity, motivation, and health for such open projects, and what formal and informal policies are needed to improve them?
  • Are certain skills or expertise missing or weak in the field of digital infrastructure, such as management experience or succession planning? How can the skills of individual maintainers, developers and advocates of open source technology be strengthened?
  • How are systemic inequalities like racism, sexism, ableism, and/or xenophobia encoded in digital infrastructure, and how might that encoding be dismantled? How might the diverse local and global communities reliant on this infrastructure exercise power and more actively shape its creation and maintenance?
  • What are the policy and regulatory considerations for the long-term sustainability of digital infrastructure? What kinds of capacity are needed, for example in government, philanthropy, or civil society, to ensure long-term development of digital infrastructure in the public interest?

    Cost Tiers

  • Small: Under $50k
  • Medium: $50k - $125k
  • Large: over $125k-$200k

    The grant start date would be sometime between October 1st and December 31st.

    Eligibility Criteria

  • Individuals, Organizations (nonprofit and for-profit), and Academic Institutions are eligible.
  • Organizations based outside of the United States are encouraged to apply.

    Apply by 4th September.

    For more information and application details, see; Digital Infrastructure Research Grants

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