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Internet Society Foundation Announces $1.5 Million in COVID-19 Response Grants

The Internet plays a more important role than ever, serving as a lifeline so that children can continue learning, families and friends can stay connected, and vital public health information can keep circulating. At the Internet Society Foundation, we believe access to the Internet and its solutions can create healthier and safer communities, reduce vulnerabilities, and help build the resilience communities need to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and emerge better prepared in the future.

That’s why we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve completed the selection process for our Emergency Response: COVID-19 grants, awarding USD$1.5 million in funding to four innovative projects that are using the Internet to help communities respond and adapt to the challenges created by the current pandemic.

The funding will support the following efforts around the globe: 

  • Expanding an online platform which connects and trains caregivers across Asia
  • Extending the reach of a COVID-19 training program to support 10,000 health workers in five African countries
  • Enabling a disaster response team to expand Internet connectivity for 24 critical primary health and coordination facilities across eight countries
  • Expanding the scope of an innovative technology platform that supports fact-checkers in Latin America

Read about each project!

Established in 2019 to support the positive difference the Internet can make to people everywhere, the Internet Society Foundation awards grants to Internet Society Chapters/Special Interest Groups (SIGs) as well as nonprofit organizations and individuals dedicated to providing meaningful access to an open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet for everyone. The Internet Society Foundation will launch its next call for grant applications in late September 2020 for our Research Programme area.

Learn more about future calls for grants!

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Strengthening Communities, Improving Lives and Livelihoods: The Internet Society Foundation Launches SCILLS

When people connect to the Internet, they can change the world for the better. And so many people have done just that, using this transformative technology to make strides in education, economic opportunity, and health outcomes. But Internet access is only part of the equation. There’s now a different kind of divide: the gap between those who have the knowledge and skills to use the Internet to empower themselves and their communities – and those who don’t.

To address this gap, the Internet Society Foundation is launching SCILLS: Strengthening Communities, Improving Lives and Livelihoods. The program aims to expand economic growth, improve health outcomes, and increase educational opportunities – by supporting communities to more knowledgeably and skillfully use the Internet.


Are you working to close this gap? The Internet Society Foundation wants to hear from you!

In its pilot year, the program is open to eligible organizations in Bangladesh, Colombia, and Senegal, with expansion to additional countries planned in coming years. It provides grants of up to $150,000 USD for projects lasting up to 24 months. Applications are open between 9 June and 3 July, and grantees will be announced in early September.

The Internet is for everyone – a critical lifeline that can uplift communities. But only if we bridge the knowledge gap and equip more people to make the most of this powerful tool.


Learn more and apply!



Image ©Paula Bronstein/Getty Images via Images of Empowerment

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About Internet Society

Working together to build a bigger, stronger Internet

[Published on behalf of the Internet Society Board of Trustees.]

The Internet Society’s vision is that the Internet is for everyone. Earlier this month, we wrote about our efforts to ensure a stable and diverse funding model to support the work that takes us towards our vision. The role of the Board of Trustees is to provide, with support from the community, the strategic direction for that work. In this post, we discuss our recent and current strategic efforts, put them into context, and provide pointers with more information for our community to get involved in defining our wanted future.

Naturally, the starting point of our current strategy was to agree with the community on the overall direction. Therefore, two years ago, during 2017, the Board consulted with our community to revise our mission statement into what we have today. Many of you contributed to that 2017 effort, which resulted in the following three focus areas:

  • Building and supporting the communities that make the Internet work;
  • Advancing the development and application of Internet infrastructure, technologies, and open standards; and
  • Advocating for policy that is consistent with our view of the Internet

Based on that community agreement on the development of this new mission, the Board of Trustees began the work on a plan to change the structure of the Internet Society in order to best support this refreshed mission. This plan eventually led to the creation of two new “supporting organizations” during 2018.

One aspect of our plan was working with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to create a new supporting organization in the form of the IETF LLC. The establishment of the IETF LLC was discussed at length with the IETF community. While the Internet Society remains the largest funding source for the IETF, the result is that the IETF LLC formally gives the IETF legal status, and more freedom to manage their support activities, including budgeting.

A second aspect of our plan was the creation of the Internet Society Foundation to provide funding to the community in several key areas. As the Foundation team recently explained in the Foundation’s own Action Plan 2020, they will be funding work within our Chapters, Special Interest Groups (SIGs), and other communities; funding research and innovation; and supporting partners to help develop disaster-resilient communities. In addition, the Foundation will be supporting projects that strengthen communities, and improve lives and livelihoods. As usual, we will be seeking ideas from our community.

The Internet Society Foundation has already been providing grants in 2019 and is looking forward to expanding that work in 2020. Remain alert for future calls for grant applications.

Once our new mission and the structure above were in place, in 2019 the Board of Trustees turned its focus on aligning ISOC’s internal structure and short term-plan with the long-term direction given by our mission. Encouraged by the Board, both efforts were championed by Andrew Sullivan, our President and CEO, and the Internet Society Executive Team.

ISOC’s new internal structure makes it easy to set up projects that include the necessary competence. It also facilitates identifying areas where new capabilities need to be developed. We believe that the new structure provides ISOC with a solid foundation to implement its future action plans.

ISOC’s 2020 Action Plan was developed together with our community. Through the outreach we conducted over the past six months, over 3,000 of our members contributed to surveys and feedback sessions, helping to shape and guide the direction of this new Action Plan. The Board of Trustees approved the Action Plan on November 24, 2019, in part because we are confident that what we now have in place reflects the voice of our community. 

We also want to thank all the members our community who joined us last Wednesday, December 11, to learn more about the Action Plan and how we will focus on building, promoting, and defending the Internet to make it bigger and stronger for everyone. We look forward to working with you all to move our 2020 projects forward and to achieve the tangible and impactful outcomes we seek.

As we set out on the path to 2025, we plan to continue consulting our community to develop our action plans. Please, stay tuned and continue providing us with your valuable input. Our goal is to make sure the direction of the Internet Society and its work remain aligned with community interests.

To sustain the important work in support of our mission, the work within our supporting organizations, and the projects within our Action Plan, we on the Board of Trustees have a duty to ensure the long-term viability of the Internet Society. Therefore, reducing financial risk is of strategic importance for the Internet Society. Previous boards have worked on revenue diversification activities for many years with limited success.  As we wrote earlier this month, we believe the sale of the PIR will help the Internet Society reduce this financial risk, while at the same time enabling PIR to do much more to grow the .ORG domain business and provide new services to .ORG registrants.

If you are interested in the work Board does, several years ago we started making both the minutes and the video recordings of our Board meetings publicly available. We also hold Open Forum meetings and webminars where the community can interact with the Board. In addition, trustees interact with parts of the community at multiple events on a constant basis.

As we head toward 2020 and to our longer-term strategy for 2025, we look forward to continuing to work with all of our Chapters, Special Interest Groups (SIGs), Organization members, individual members, and partners to realize our vision that “The Internet is for everyone”. We believe in an Internet that is open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy. Thank you for all you do to ensure that the Internet is a resource to enrich people’s lives and a force for good in society.


Image: Community members of Pu’uhonua O Waimanalo work together with the Internet Society to learn how to use and install the Internet during the Internet Society/ Pu’uhonua O Waimanalo training session on November 14th, 2019. © Elyse Butler

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Announcing an Executive Director for the Internet Society Foundation

Last year we established the Internet Society Foundation, with a plan to make clearer the Internet Society’s grant-making activities, and distinguish them from Internet Society programmes. We announced that we would develop the Foundation over the course of the following year.

Since then, we have introduced the Internet Society Foundation’s new website and opened up the process for applications from ISOC Chapters and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) for the Beyond the Net Grants Programme, which is now housed within the Foundation. This now includes the full range of Beyond the Net Small, Medium, and Large Grants.

In parallel with moving the Beyond the Net Programme, we have been searching for a leader for the Foundation. I am pleased to announce our selection. 

Sarah Armstrong starts in her new role as the Foundation’s Executive Director today, July 1. She brings a wealth of experience to us, having built a career in non-profit, humanitarian, and international development work over many years.

Please join me in extending a warm Internet Society welcome to Sarah. I am sure she will play a key role in ensuring that our financial support for others’ activities is focused and effective. I look forward to a Foundation that, under her leadership, strengthens the Internet both in function and reach, so that it can serve people everywhere.