FY 2020 DRL Internet Freedom Annual Program Statement

Silvia Weninger

1) Objective

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Statements of Interest (RSOI) from organizations interested in submitting Statements of Interest (SOI) for programs that support Internet Freedom. In support of the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace, DRL’s goal is to protect the open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet by promoting fundamental freedoms, human rights, and the free flow of information online through integrated support to civil society for technology, digital safety, policy and advocacy, and applied research programs. Internet Freedom Funding Themes: SOIs must address one or more of the Internet Freedom Funding Themes: technology, digital safety, policy and advocacy, and applied research.

The following list of program considerations is provided as a guide to help applicants develop responsive, robust program proposals. This list of considerations will not be used as criteria to evaluate SOI applications: (1) preference will be given to open source technologies with practical deployment and sustainability plans. These technologies are inherently more transparent and re-usable. At the same time, DRL recognizes that anti-censorship tools may at times rely on non-publicly disclosed information or code for a small portion of their code base; (2) consistent with DRL’s venture-capital style approach to Internet freedom, projects should have a model for long-term sustainability beyond the life of the grant; (3) DRL encourages applicants to foster collaborative partnerships, especially with local organization(s) in target countries and/or regions, where applicable. Where appropriate, applicants are invited to form consortia for submitting a combined proposal, but the primary organization that is developing and deploying the anti-censorship technology must be the lead (“prime”) applicant; and (4) DRL strives to ensure its programs advance the rights and uphold the dignity of the most at-risk and vulnerable populations.

2) Eligibility

Eligible applicants are: U.S.-based and foreign-based non-profit organisations/non-government organisations  (NGOs); Public international organisations; Private, public, or state institutions of higher education; and For-profit organisations or businesses.

3) Location

Actions can take place worldwide. SOIs focused globally or focused on any region will be considered. Applications should prioritize work in Internet-repressive environments.

4) Budget

Maximum award amount is $3,000,000 and Minimum award amount is $500,000. DRL Internet freedom programs typically run for 1-3 years.

5) Application

There will be two deadlines for submission of SOIs – September 20, 2019 and March 6, 2020. An organization may submit no more than two (2) SOIs per deadline. Organizations that submit applications to the first deadline may also submit applications to the second deadline, regardless of the outcome of their previous applications(s).