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This call has ended. Thank you for your submissions!
All shortlisted finalists will be informed in the week of 3 June 2019.
All selected finalists will receive a confirmation in the week of 17 June 2019.


What this is about

Catalytic intervention grants aim to support a more sustainable community network environment. To create such an environment, we have to explore ways to overcome the isolation of local community networks, improve their access to spectrum, actively foster their diversity and provide solutions for their resilience (e.g. alternative energy) as well as technological innovation. These grants are part of the project Connecting the unconnected: Supporting community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives.

This call is closed

Who can apply

The call is open for all initiatives and projects directly working on or with community networks. The grant volume totals USD 180,000 available to applicants in the global South and countries listed as Official Development Assistance (ODA) recipients by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The maximum amount requested per project can be USD 30,000 (or USD 40,000 for joint submissions). There is additional value if you have other sources of funding to complement these funds. Taking into account the costs of certain technologies, we are open to receiving proposals up to USD 60,000 if the applicants can justify the need for such an increased budget.

We would like to point out that we especially encourage applications looking at community networks through an intersectional feminist lens. We highly encourage applications from community networks that are led by and/or working for the advancement of women, queer, trans and gender-diverse people, people living with disabilities, indigenous peoples as well as climate justice and land rights workers. In other words, priority will be given to initiatives led by women and other socially excluded groups such as queer, trans* and sex workers; groups working on protecting land rights; community networks working on advancing the role of women in CNs from inception to implementation; groups using innovative and eco-informed models for sustainability; and applicants whose work challenges hetero-patriarchy and cis-masculinities.

What is a catalytic intervention

To help you identify strategic interventions to strengthen a diverse and sustainable community network movement, we have compiled a short list of the types of projects being sought. Feel free to combine one or several of those objectives, or propose something different or new.

  • Access to spectrum and corresponding regulation: Lots of innovative network initiatives struggle to get legal access to available spectrum. The current management of the airwaves and regulations oriented towards the business models of global telecom companies limit our ability to put into practice community-based approaches. We therefore embrace initiatives aiming to create replicable strategies for policy and regulatory changes as well as the creation of expanded conditions for networking practices. Some examples of this are liberating licensed spectrum for mobile community networks and developing approaches to enhance spectrum sharing or secondary use.

  • Incorporation of new and different technologies: While wireless community networks have become local realities in many places, there is both a need to connect those local networks with upstream connectivity as well as to expand the types of technologies at the disposal of community networks to address current and future challenges. As an example, fibre optic technology responds to both of these issues and we welcome innovative ideas to put this technology, and others, within reach for communities.

  • Women, queer, trans and gender-diverse networks: Once again, we encourage you to (re)think and (re)create networks through an intersectional feminist lens. Examples for pilot projects are community networks sensitive to gender, directly designed and run by women or open for queering as well as initiatives reflecting the different abilities of all possible users and collaborators and their environmental impact. Of course, intersections are possible and desired. What can you think of?

  • Local and indigenous content production: Community networks are not only about enhancing the possibilities of connecting to the global internet; they are also about creating spaces for interpersonal communication and information sharing and conservation. Against the background of free and community broadcasting experiences, a broad range of informative, political and cultural uses of local digital networks appear and disappear. We are looking for your ideas around local media production and sharing, storage of information, community archives and other content-related operations.

  • Network resiliency, development and environmentally viable energy for all: Whether due to power failures, lightning strikes or even politically motivated shutdowns of digital networks, community networks face lots of vulnerabilities. Simply keeping our networks running is a challenge we all face, and so we welcome proposals addressing topics such as alternative energy, site grounding and protection, circumvention, and so on. What kind of network resiliency and development is needed in your region? What is your plan to create it and how could it be shared by others in practical ways? We especially encourage proposals coming from informal urban settlements, rural and isolated areas, and indigenous territories.

  • Indigenous-led networks, land rights and climate justice: Indigenous people carry a tremendous burden defending the water, land and environment. Many times their territories and ways of life are under attack. We invite indigenous communities to lead the design of CNs. We also invite them to innovate CNs in their languages to increase accessibility and preservation of language and culture, as well as include local knowledge and resistance to advance the resiliency of networks that are rendered vulnerable due to environmental and other human-related threats.

  • Unlocking universal service funds: To promote universal communication services within national territories, many governments subsidise the deployment of infrastructure. Traditionally those funds have been used exclusively by large private and public companies – but things could change. We are looking for pilot projects that pave the way to unlocking universal service funds in a specific country for community-based networks and that are willing to share and replicate the experience across borders.

  • Sustainability, regional and cross-regional consolidation of community networks: A community network cannot survive and thrive without a sustainability strategy. Costs for maintenance, legal orientation and innovation can become important financial burdens, especially as networks grow. We invite you to propose practical ideas that help foster the collaboration of local networks and consolidate the sharing of resources and technologies on a regional and cross-regional level in the global South.

  • Networks led by people living with disabilities: In our commitment to inclusive and community-led networks, we invite communities constituted partially or as a whole by people living with disabilities to apply. Thereby we invite people living with disabilities to (re)gain control over the design and usability, and advance development and access of community networks. People living with disabilities are often excluded or discriminated against in relation to their involvement in community networks, whether it be from the design of community networks, to the assumptions that community members hold around someone’s ability to carry on a certain task or about their assumed needs. So, let’s connect with care and make visible what is often rendered invisible, unheard or inaccessible. We also invite communities not yet including people living with disabilities to be inclusive and aware of the needs of groups of people living with disabilities when leading work on community networks.

How to apply

Applicants should address one or several of the objectives mentioned above. They can also propose other kinds of interventions that they define as catalytic. In both cases, applicants are requested to suggest a strategic contribution to the community network movement.

This call has ended

You can use this document [form in odt] to prepare your application before uploading to this form. Please use the budget template [ODS / XLS] for your budget. In order to avoid losing your content, it is highly recommended that you develop your proposal off-line (e.g. using the above-referenced form), and only once you are done, copy the content into the online form. Make sure to keep your local copy as backup.

This call is closed

If you have any question please contact