In early 2019, Stefan Thomas shared his vision to support people bold and creative enough to rewrite the business models of the web. A few months later, planning for Grant for the Web kicked off around a kitchen table in Washington, D.C. With whiteboards and sticky notes, late night chats and early morning walks, we tackled the design opportunity of a lifetime: building a funding program to support open standards for better, alternative online business models that benefit the public good. As we look back over the last 18 months, it is clearly time to take a breath and share with the emerging community how far we have come, and how far we still plan to go.
Building a working and thoughtful granting program around new ideas, technology, currencies, and partnerships proved to be a fun but daunting task. In our first 18 months, or what we sometimes refer to as our Year Zero, we had to draw together the collaborating partners, start community conversations about how to build the program, launch our first open call for proposals, and kick-off a series of partner conversations with people, some who would become our first grantees.
As we look back on these early months of the program, here are our biggest highlights and achievements:
- Launching the program and MVP versions of all operational elements
- Prototyping six funding programs: Curated Grants, Ambassadors, Re-Grants, Technical Scholars, Open Call for Proposals and Event Sponsorships
- Building community through events, judging cohorts and a custom Web Monetization community space
- Supporting a range of ambitions from Spark level ideas to big, audacious bets
- Leveraging the expertise and guidance of our Executive Council, made up of members from Mozilla, Creative Commons and Coil.
We promised to give away money to projects, so how did we do? Here’s what we achieved by the end of 2020:
- 116 Grantees
- Grantees from 27 countries
- $8M+ in committed funds
- 286 applicants to our first public call for proposals
Today, with early design and significant learning under our belts, we have completed our first strategic plan and are feeling prepared and energized to tackle the ambitious goals it outlines, which include:
Managing a well-governed philanthropic fund: We’ll define our vision for systems-level change (especially around supporting alternatives to discriminatory and privileged business models) and will focus on creating processes, a philanthropic identity, and advisory groups to sustain the program over multiple years.
Seeding and sustaining a community powered by Grant for the Web to advance the Interledger Protocol and Web Monetization: We’ll amplify and leverage our existing community of grantees, while broadening our targeted audiences for outreach with an emphasis on communities of color and other underrepresented groups.
Establishing and maintaining Grant for the Web as a driver of equitable creative, technological, and financial opportunities: We’ll fund globally diverse and historically underrepresented groups to capitalize on new economic models on the web and incorporate diverse perspectives into our programmatic design and decision-making.
Growing Grant for the Web’s programs, processes, and tools: We’ll build grantmaking practices that are less ad hoc and more open and deliberate while continuing to use the community space as both a proof of concept and a public arena for hosting grantmaking outputs.
We couldn’t have achieved so much, or be as enthusiastic about the future of our program, without the thought and energy of our growing community. Thank you to our grantees, community members, advisory and Executive Council members, and anyone dedicated to exploring this new world of Web Monetization with us.
We are planning future posts and would like to know what you want to hear more about or questions you have about the program and our 2021 strategic plan.