2020 Digital Infrastructure Research RFP from Ford, Sloan, Open Society, Mozilla

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The software, standards, and protocols that form our digital infrastructure are critical to a free and open internet, and much of it has been built by volunteers. But free, public code—which we refer to as open source software—needs regular upkeep and maintenance, just as physical infrastructure does, and because it doesn’t belong to any one person or party, it is no one person’s job to maintain it. Without maintenance, we see the digital equivalent of a crumbling road or a collapsing bridge.

Building toward a more diverse and well-funded ecosystem for critical digital infrastructure, the Ford Foundation and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation came together in 2018 to fund thirteen research projects that fill gaps in understanding of how digital infrastructure is built, maintained, and sustained. In some cases the findings of these projects open up further questions, while in others they suggest interventions that could strengthen community practices.

To continue to advance this agenda, we have launched a 2020 RFP inviting proposals to further study the maintenance of digital infrastructure. This new RFP is being funded again by Ford Foundation and Sloan Foundation as well as Mozilla and Open Society Foundations.

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We seek to support proposals addressing a range of issues and a range of different scopes. As part of your concept we will ask you to provide a rough sense of the size of your project according to three cost tiers. Please note that the cost tier does not indicate a length of time: proposals may cover any time range, regardless of cost. We expect most projects will fall into a 6 to 24 month time range, but this is not a hard requirement.

Cost Tiers:

  • Small: Under $50k
  • Medium: $50k - $125k
  • Large: over $125k-$200k