29 May 2020
Our Strengthening Communities/Improving Lives and Livelihoods (SCILLS) grant programme aims to expand economic growth, improve health outcomes and increase educational opportunities by supporting individuals and communities to more knowledgeably and skillfully use the Internet.
The Foundation is committed to working with organizations that focus in one (or all) of the following three areas: Economic Growth, Health and Education.
The Foundation is seeking projects that help communities leverage Internet access to build financial opportunities, increase economic independence, and create sustainable income sources. Such projects could include:
- Entrepreneurship: Increasing digital literacy among girls in order to help them become small business owners.
- Agriculture: Using the Internet to increase agricultural yields by better understanding demand and market changes.
- Climate change: Adapting a local business to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly or more resilient to climate change.
- Innovation: Creating tech hubs or makerspaces that allow rural populations to create innovative solutions to local problems.
The Foundation is seeking projects that support communities to leverage Internet access to improve health outcomes, facilitate patient care and upskill local healthcare providers. Such projects could include:
- Telemedicine: Providing online preventative care to underserved rural and remote communities.
- Digitizing records: Simplifying patient record keeping and care through electronically preserving records.
- Connecting health facilities: Enabling better sharing of information among healthcare facilities.
- Innovation: Supporting innovative solutions to healthcare provision that can easily be implemented in low-bandwidth environments.
The Foundation is seeking projects that support communities to leverage Internet access to increase entry to basic education, improve learning outcomes and increase teaching skills. Such projects could include:
- Remote education: Enabling communities to access culturally relevant educational opportunities, such as learning materials in local languages.
- Teacher education: Supporting teachers to leverage the Internet to upskill themselves or to further increase the educational opportunities for their classrooms.
- Innovation: Creating unique learning opportunities that can be replicated across similar contexts.
Aligned with the above focus areas, the Foundation will be seeking projects that address the following cross-cutting issues:
- Digital literary, inclusion and hygiene
- Relevant content, that is localized and tailored to the needs and languages of target communities
- Concrete incentives to Internet adoption
These are not to be considered as stand-alone goals of a project, but rather a means by which proposed programmes may expand economic growth, improve health outcomes and increase educational opportunities.
Additionally, the Foundation is seeking partnerships with organizations that:
- Have a demonstrated understanding and track record of success in working in one or all of the Focus Areas detailed above
- Have a deep knowledge of their countries and networks that extend beyond capital cities and urban areas
- Are committed to the using the Internet as a force for good
- Can demonstrate previous experience in managing large (over $100k) grants and possibly experience in sub-granting to local groups
In Year One, the Foundation will target its efforts in one country in each of three distinct regions: Asia Pacific, LAC and Africa. The target countries for our first launch for applications are Bangladesh, Colombia and Senegal.
Why a targeted focus?
The Foundation has decided to launch this funding stream as a pilot in Year One from which we will learn how to best implement the SCILLS programme in the future. We will be working with our grantees in these three countries over the next year to observe and learn all we can about: shaping partnerships, adapting to different local contexts, successfully expanding economic growth, improving health outcomes and increasing educational opportunities. We will then expand to other countries in these three regions and likely others as well in Year Two.
As this is a pilot year, we will be accepting grant applications only for programmes that will be implemented in Bangladesh, Colombia and Senegal. These selections were made as a result of conducting research to determine countries with sufficient commonalities on which we can build a common methodology and approach to our programmes.
Why these countries?
The Foundation staff looked at World Bank statistics, interviewed regional experts and local actors as well as reviewed reports from think tanks, universities, research institutions and private businesses to help us determine where to start SCILLS. Colombia, Bangladesh and Senegal all feature the following attributes:
- Lower-to-middle income countries
- Medium-to-high Internet penetration rate
- Established organizations operating in-country
- Strategically placed in the region for expansion in future years
- Provide a balance of need and relative ease in operating environment (i.e. ability to send funds into the country, relative peace/stability, areas where the internet is not yet being accessed to benefit communities)
We are confident in these choices for Year One and know that this will provide a solid foundation for expanding this programme to the rest of the world in years to come.
The Foundation is in the process of refining our requirements for the SCILLS programme and identifying a pool of possible partners. Additional details and updated grant information will be posted here in the coming weeks. The SCILLS Grant Programme Area will be launched in early May 2020.
Header image from Images of Empowerment used under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)