Open to: NGO’s
Grants: rarely over $200,000, most common amount is less than $50,000
The Open Society Institute Information Program works to increase public access to knowledge, facilitate civil society communication, and protect civil liberties and the freedom to communicate in the digital environment. The program pays particular attention to the information needs of disadvantaged groups and people in less developed parts of the world. The program also uses new tools and techniques to empower civil society groups in their various international, national, and local efforts to promote open society.
The program has staff based in offices in Budapest, London, and New York and works with OSI programs and Soros foundations on the information aspects of issues such as public health, anticorruption, education, and human rights and justice.
The three main areas of program activity consist of promoting and developing:
* access to knowledge;
* civil society communication; and
* open information policy.
More information about the three main areas can be found here.
Through its access to knowledge focus, the program supports five projects that work to open up and increase access to knowledge and information in poorer countries. The program’s civil society communication activities are guided by three initiatives that enhance the ability of civil society groups and networks to obtain and use information and provide these groups with software tools to meet their needs. The open information policy initiative works to protect freedom of expression in the digital environment and broaden communications access in the most disadvantaged countries through new approaches using open standards and competitive access to resources.
Recent Information Program activities include:
- supporting civil society efforts to reform global intellectual property rights rules so copyrighted materials can be more easily accessed by blind and visually impaired people;
- helping make legal information accessible and freely available online in 18 southern African countries;
- and continuing to expand the Electronic Information for Libraries project, which helps over 3,000 libraries in more than 55 countries provide information to almost 6 million users.
The program also supports projects that use emerging web-based techniques to combine disparate information sources in order to broaden access to government information and decision making in entirely new ways. In collaboration with OSI’s Human Rights and Governance Grants Program, the Information Program is working on an initiative to use human rights data more effectively for advocacy.
The program is also helping human rights groups and communications companies to develop a set of principles and code of conduct that will protect the free expression and privacy rights of people using information technology services.
The Information Program focuses on projects based in the following regions:
* Central Asia and Caucasus
* Central/Eastern Europe
* Middle East
* Southeast Asia
* South-East Europe
* Western CIS
* Latin America
The Information Program rarely gives grants over $200,000, and the most common amount is less than $50,000.
The OSI Information Program is keen to make grants to NGOs and civil society groups not yet in its extended network. The best approach is to email one of the program managers with a short description of your project, and let them guide you through the process from there. More information can be found here.
Read through material provided on the official website to ascertain whether your project might attract funding from the OSI Information Program. You will find guidance on the sorts of projects they fund, and the particular areas where they are looking to expand our activities, under each of the grant-giving initiatives listed on the website.
Once you have found an initiative you think fits your project well, you will see a link to contact details for the relevant program manager at the bottom of the page. If none of the initiatives described fits with your project, then it is unlikely that the Information Program will fund it.
You should not start writing a proposal until you have been invited to do so by Information Program staff.
A lot more information can be found on the official website.