Strategic Grants Q&A: Mid-2018

We’ve announced our first round of the OSC’s Strategic Grant program, and applications are due at the end of July.

Please share your questions about the program, themes, or logistics by replying to this topic. We’ll update this top post with answers to all your questions.

A: That’s correct. The entire amount available is $900,000 USD. While the average number mentioned above is accurate, the intention was to leave some flexibility for larger or smaller projects that meet strategic goals for open source projects, aligned with the themes mentioned in the overview document. It is anticipated that there will be 5 different grants with different recipients.

A: In the case or multiple recipients for a single application, DIAL (the grant sponsor) prefers to issue direct agreements to each recipient, but will negotiate the best grant mechanism based on the application and risk assessment.

A: As the grant sponsor, DIAL & UNF are committed to supporting smaller organizations. The questionnaire does not present minimums and/or limitations on the organizations or projects to be funded, and will not preclude recipients from receiving funds. The questionnaire is meant as a benchmark to better understand the capacity of a recipient to handle United States Government (USG) funds. It is part of the USG regulations that this type of assessment be conducted to ensure DIAL/UNF issues public funds responsibly.

A: If your proposal is focused on developing/improving/changing the software that runs the library & learning tools, improving the community that maintains the platform, or working with the users to better understand their needs & adjusting the tools to meet those needs … then yes. Our mandate is specifically to focus on technology projects, so unfortunately that can’t include proposals whose primary focus is around developing content and/or community educational activities. Good luck!

A: Please coordinate to submit one proposal per open source software project/community. Multiple tasks/projects may be listed within a single proposal, keeping in mind that per, “Eligible proposals will involve one or more of the … activity categories”. (So your proposal should address at least one if not more of the 5 themes.)

A: Grants will be selected per proposal. The funder has some flexibility as to allocation of funds and recipient organization(s), so please do not let worries about qualifications or coordination of funds block your submission. DIAL/UNF will work with selected recipients to disburse funds in the most effective way possible.

We received this question via e-mail…

Q: Are the funds for this grant connected to the United States Government?

A: This grant opportunity’s funding comes from a mix of DIAL’s internal funding sources, which includes USAID, Sida, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A: Yes, receiving other awards in the past does not disqualify a project from submitting an application. Reviewers may consider past efforts, results, and outcomes from previous grant activity, however.

(Someone probably wouldn’t want to request funding for the same work twice! That said, we believe the themes between the smaller catalytic grant program and this larger strategic grant program are unique enough so that is unlikely to happen.)

Q: Can projects with proprietary software apply for this grant?

A: No, we will not be providing grants for work on projects that are not open source.

Q: Can projects with proprietary software apply for this grant, if the scope of work includes releasing this software as open source?

A: We would invite these projects to apply, provided they can include a detailed roadmap as to when and how the code would be re-licensed. However, please refer to the merit criteria for this grant, and consider the scoring implications for projects that are currently proprietary.

A: We agree! Our Catalytic Grants Program is designed for just these projects. The most recent round of catalytic grants has just closed, but stay tuned in the fall for the next round.

A: In most cases, this would be the applicant, or the organization doing the work. Once we have selected finalists, we will work with each applicant and project individually to understand how best to allocate funds in a way that will be effective to achieve the work and in compliance with UN Foundation policy.

A: Correct, proposals will not be rejected solely on appearing to be too cost prohibitive. However, cost effectiveness is ten precent of the merit criteria so applicants should strive to provide as realistic a budget as possible in their initial proposals.

A: If this information is relatively easy to provide, yes! This would provide useful information should the application advance to the next round and requires any negotiation.

A: We don’t currently have a template, applicants should apply in whatever format they choose that will best address the scope of work, as well as the eligibility and merit criteria.

A: We encourage proposals from all organizations around the world, including UN agencies. We will work any selected grant recipients to understand their specific needs for subcontracting, if any, and structure our funds accordingly. Sub-recipients may be allowed, subject to specific terms.

Anyone concerned about these or related issues should still apply, as we’ll do our best to work with recipients to provide as flexible funding as is allowed.

Any supplemental information, including tax forms, will be requested of applicants only after the grant has been selected as an awardee. It is not necessary to provide the United States IRS Form W-9 at this time.

A: The 10 page limit includes all information to complete the Merit Criteria listed at – with the exception of any external documents such as the Risk Assessment and W-9 or other tax forms.

A: We are happy to discuss disbursement plans & work toward a mutually agreeable schedule with selected recipients.

A: As described under “Additional Eligibility Criteria” at the target product(s) must already have multiple stakeholders, therefore it must already be an existing work. Additionally, the main “Eligibility Criteria” for the overall grant program at state that “Proposal extends, integrates, or improves one or more existing open source project(s) that is no longer in a conceptual phase, and has existing published code.”

A: Upstream projects or dependencies are not counted as the same project as the downstream or derivative software product, unless both are produced by the same open source community and the downstream/derivative work is simply extending the base product.

For example, the Linux Kernel Project, the GNOME Project, and the Fedora Community could both all independently apply for grants, provided each of their proposals were relevant and otherwise eligible.

A: As described in the Merit Criteria, CV’s or other biographical information should be provided on 1-3 individuals to proposed to perform the work, demonstrating experience and capabilities necessary to achieve the proposed activities. The roles provided in a submitted proposal would depend on the work proposed.

A: A fiscally-sponsored project would apply on behalf of the project, but would list the fiscal sponsor as recipients of funds. Therefore the Risk Assessment should refer to the fiscal sponsor’s activities & background.

A: Please submit the risk assessment form along with your proposal.

A: As listed under “Merit Review Criteria” at, 10 points are assigned to the “Technical Capacity” section, namely:

The applicant must provide CV’s or other biographical information on 1-3 individuals to proposed to perform the work, demonstrating experience and capabilities necessary to achieve the proposed activities.


This is a great opportunity! Couple of quick questions.

  1. Can you confirm that this is $900K for up to 5 awardees, so about $180K on average per award?
  2. Can funding go directly from the UN Foundation to multiple recipients in one proposal or must there be one recipient?
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One not so quick question.

The assessment questionnaire reads like it’s for large multi-national orgs with complex hierarchies. The language seems to favor existing players and I’m concerned it will discourage small, but perfectly capable organizations from applying.

Before said smaller organizations put in the effort to apply, is there any guidance on what are make or break requirements are?

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Thanks @yanokwa for your questions. Detailed answers are now available in the top post of this topic.

Hi All,

I work on an open source knowledge platform and interested in applying for the strategic grants. I wanted to find out if my project is eligible: It is an online resource library and learning platform, but does not have a software component. Can we apply?

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Hi @jfarrell and thank you for your question. You can find an answer in the top post of this topic.

If multiple annexes are applicable to different pain points of a single organization/community/project, should that organization submit multiple applications? Would that organization be eligible to receive multiple grant awards from the pool of funds or one larger grant award that goes across multiple annexes? If possible, should the org submit one application or multiple ones?

A few questions:

  • Are open source projects expected to submit a single proposal per project?
  • If projects can submit more than one proposal, can multiple proposals be submitted per annex? (For example, multiple ideas for Product Consolidation)

I think our questions are similar to @edcable’s.

Thank you @edcable & @tenly.snow. We have updated the Q&A at the top post of this topic with answers to your previous questions.

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Thank you @downey, much appreciated.

Hey All,

This is a great opportunity.
Quick question: Are awardees of catalytic grants eligible for this larger grant?

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Good question @angela. Please see the top post of this topic where we’ve just provided an answer.

I applaud this initiative! I have an application that allows users to browse multiple open-source products (all relevant to health and development) and start sandboxes of these open-source products with the click of a button. Would this application qualify for support even if we do not release the business logic that allows this to happen?

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A quick comment: open source initiatives are traditionally all-volunteer initiatives requiring in most cases very little actual funding. Awarding so much money to so few projects doesn’t seem in touch with open source community needs. Our humanitarian AI project for example could benefit from a critical but comparatively micro-size grant. I think most other project leaders are in the same boat so to speak.

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As we develop a proposed budget & narrative, I’m concerned that the cost may be offputting to the proposal reviewers. But I see in the request for applications that “The final amount will be dependent upon grant activities and final negotiation and may be lower or higher than that range” and “The specific type of grant will be determined during the negotiation process with each individual organization.” So it sounds like a too-large initial ask would not necessarily get the proposal thrown out; instead, if the proposal is promising, OSC might negotiate a smaller strategic grant that covered fewer activities. Is this correct?

Should this proposal also briefly list tasks we could cut to lower the project cost? Would that be useful to the reviewers at the first stage?

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Quick question. Who is the recipient of the grant award? Is it the company or organization that is creating the innovation (applicant) or another partner? Please clarify this statement. Applicants must identify a suitable recipient of funds such as a product ecosystem partner or fiscal sponsor, which displays sound management in the form of financial, administrative, and technical policies and procedures and present a system of internal controls that safeguard assets; protect against fraud, waste, and abuse; and support the achievement of program goals and objectives.

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“Are we eligible to apply for the grant if our software is not currently open source, but we would be using funds to complete our current roadmap in order to make our legacy software open source?”

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Thank you for your questions regarding applications related to proprietary software, @taryndavis and @andileco.

Thanks also to @CamilleMark, @sumanah and @Brentophillips for your questions and comments!

Please see the top post of this topic where we’ve just provided an answers to all of these.

To whom it may concern,

I would like to know if there is a template to apply for the above grant opportunity?

I look forward to hear from you.


Luc Lapointe

Cali Colombia

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