The Internet Society established the Internet Society Foundation (The Foundation) to fund projects that will improve the quality of people’s lives everywhere. The Foundation awards grants to Internet Society Chapters and Special Interest Groups as well as non-profit organizations and individuals dedicated to providing meaningful access to an open, globally connected, secure and trusted Internet for everyone.  It was launched in the first quarter of 2019.

To build on the successes of 2019, the Internet Society Foundation has prepared an Action Plan for 2020 that includes: our goal; strategies; and planned development areas. Development areas include: program areas; branding; communications; technology; staffing; and a training strategy.

Goal
Positively impact humanity through an open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet for all.

Strategies

  • Introduce and amplify the Foundation brand by communicating the role and scope of the Foundation’s purpose and focus
  • Inform stakeholders about the Foundation’s funding opportunities and solicit qualified grant applications
  • Through a transparent and independent review process, award funding to a global portfolio of charitable organizations and individuals working in the Foundation Program Areas as well as to Internet Society (ISOC) Chapters and Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
  • Implement a system whereby impact of funding can be measured

Planned Development Areas

The Foundation is committed to continuing and/or launching all of the five pre-determined Program Areas which include:

  1. Chapter Funding – Beyond the Net Small and Medium/Large for Chapters and SIGs
  2. Community Capacity Building – to be known as Strengthening Communities / Improving Lives and Livelihoods (SCILL)
  3. Research
  4. Innovation
  5. Disaster

Chapter Funding

The Beyond the Net Chapter/SIG Funding Small Grants as well Medium and Large Grants Program will continue much in the way it has in previous years.  It has been operating for more than ten years.

Beyond the Net Grants are specifically for Internet Society Chapters and SIGs with innovative ideas that contribute to the empowerment of people through projects that make a local impact.  The projects:

  • Strengthen the impact of the Internet Society’s mission and global initiatives with complementary local activities
  • Contribute to the development of the Chapter and local community
  • Engage members and Chapter leadership around a common activity
  • Develop new or strengthen existing relationships and partnerships at the local level.

Community Capacity Building

Community Capacity Building for the Foundation has been described to date as support for broader initiatives that improve Internet access and bridge the digital opportunities gap.

After a great deal of discussion to explore this definition and to identify needs and gaps, the Foundation will now define the Community Capacity Building Program as that which focuses on strengthening communities through skills development for an easier, more skilful use of and access to the Internet. The Foundation will thus announce a focus on funding non-profits that, for example, build:

  • Awareness of the Internet in communities (potentially those recently connected) and its potential benefits
  • Digital literacy skills (and overall user capability) and incentives amongst unconnected populations
  • Content in local languages
  • Online content that accessible and culturally relevant to individuals in their region/community
  • Communities’ ability to provide easier access to available platforms
  • Awareness of the importance of the tools available to protect communities utilizing the Internet from privacy and security risks.

The assumption is that the programs to-be-considered are already working in an established, stable infrastructure environment.

By defining Capacity Building by the bullets referenced above, the name of this Program Area will be changed from Community Capacity Building to The Internet Society’s Foundation’s Strengthening Communities / Improving Lives & Livelihoods – the SCILL Grant Program.

The SCILL Program Grants will be available to eligible non-profits and individuals that expand the Foundation’s reach beyond the Internet Society Chapter/SIG Community.

Additionally, the SCILL Program will not only solicit grant applications globally for those meeting the criteria described above but in 2020, the Foundation will also provide funding to support the following commitments:

  • IGF Global
  • IGF Regional, National and Youth
  • Schools of Internet Governance (SIGs)

The above three referenced elements were formerly funded by The Internet Society.

Research

Research is a Program Area that all agree needs to also be more clearly defined. The Foundation is therefore gathering a diverse group of experts for a workshop to help identify where the Foundation should invest in Internet-related research.

At the conclusion of the workshop, the Foundation will narrow the definition of Research Funding and begin to identify qualified applicants and prepare to launch a call for applications.

Current Definition: Opportunities to fund research and strengthen research capacity across technical, economic and public policy topics.

Innovation

Innovation requires additional exploration as well and will likely follow a similar model as that of the Research Program Area. This will be addressed also through a workshop followed by a call for applications.

Current Definition: Technology initiatives and innovative technologies that contribute to the open Internet.

Disaster

Disaster is another critical focus area for the Foundation and will most likely focus on helping to develop disaster resilient communities.  A strategy to address this area for funding from the Foundation will be completed in the early-to-mid part of this year.

Current Definition: Support to partner efforts to ensure communities can be reconnected quickly after natural disasters.

IETF LLC

The Foundation will adhere to its commitment to provide $5 million annually to the IETF Administration LLC as part of the Internet Society’s ongoing commitment to a strong Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Branding the Foundation

It is the intention of the Foundation to integrate all program areas as belonging to one brand, positioning the foundation to positively impact humanity through an open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet.

the five program areas in ISOC Foundation branding

Communications

It is the intention of the Foundation to integrate all program areas as belonging to one brand, positioning the foundation to positively impact humanity through an open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet.

In FY2020, the Foundation will build on the activities of 2019 and implement a multi-media strategic communications campaign featuring stories from Beyond the Net and other Grant Program Areas as they become available.

It will consist of social media, website updates, media relations, conference participation and speaking opportunities as they are identified. Communications will target both external and community audiences focusing on IMPACT.  Audiences:

Community

  • ISOC Foundation and ISOC Board of Trustees
  • ISOC Foundation and ISOC Staff
  • Foundation’s Independent Review Panel (group of ~ 25 people who will serve as reviewers of grant applications)
  • Beyond the Net Medium/Large Selection Committee
  • ISOC Community including: Chapters, Individual and Organizational Members, and others
  • Internet Community Leaders including: IETF, IGF, IAB, IESG, IAOC, IANA, APNIC, ARIN, AfriNIC, ICANN, W3C, LACNIC, RIPE NCC, PIR, and others

External Audiences

  • Potential Grantees for all five Program Areas
  • Partner Organizations
  • Technology/Business Media
  • Social Media Influencers
  • Potential Funders (when fundraising begins)

Channels Through Which We Will Deliver Our Messages

  • Website Postings
  • Social Media
  • Public Relations
  • Events
  • Conferences

It is the intention of the Foundation to integrate all program areas as belonging to one brand, positioning the foundation to positively impact humanity through an open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet.

Technology

The Foundation has signed an agreement with Fluxx, as our Grants Management System (GMS) partner.  Fluxx will be used as our GMS for all five program areas for the Foundation.  

Staffing

The Foundation’s organizational chart will feature that which is shown below.  The staff are shown in the blue boxes and the grey boxes indicate the support areas which come from the Internet Society as well as the Board of Trustees.

organizational chart for ISOC Foundation in 2020

Training Strategy

There is a strong need for funding recipients (Internet Society chapters, non-profits, and/or individuals) to receive training in at least three areas in 2020:

  1. How to apply for a grant, including how to write and present an application.
  2. How to determine whether a program is having an impact (how is this measured?) and what to look for that is worth communicating as a success story
  3. How to develop a program sustainability strategy.

The Foundation will develop a training strategy for all of these areas and more and will likely make them all available as videos on iscofoundation.org with a communications campaign driving traffic to any module created. Some in-person trainings may occur as appropriate.

Integrating with the Internet Society’s Priorities

As the Foundation is aligned with the Internet Society’s mission, the plan is to collaborate with the Project Leads of the identified projects for the Internet Society’s 2020 Action Plan:

  • Promoting the Internet way of networking
  • Extending encryption
  • Securing global routing
  • Increasing time security
  • Leading by example with open standards and protocols
  • Promoting Community Networks
  • Engaging technical and operational communities
  • Measuring the Internet

The Foundation will explore how to help scale and complement some or all of the above outlined projects to determine which projects line up best with the objectives of the Foundation’s Program Areas.

Budget

The Foundation 2020 operating budget includes the annual contribution from Public Interest Registry (PIR) of $23.9M less the Foundations annual contribution to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) of $5M and other personnel and operating costs as discussed above.  All costs in the budget are to support the growth, reach and impact of the Foundation in its second year of operation.

Foundation budget for 2020

The balance of the Board Designated Funds at the end of 2019 is estimate at $4.334M. The Board has approved an additional $1.M to be allocated on the Chapter Capacity and SCILL grants to support the Foundations Action Plan.