Grant for the Web's 2021 recap

2021 has been a year of attentive observation and thoughtful recalibration at Grant for the Web. As funded projects from our earliest cohorts matured and went to market, it was fascinating to watch the network effects spread into an open payments ecosystem. Connections in the Web Monetization Community flourished and we welcomed newcomers into our community and helped them thrive. 

The global pandemic and social unrest was never far from our minds. As a global community we know that many of you have had to do your work against terrible headwinds. We appreciate all of you and the work you do with us. Thank you.

On the bright side, this year’s learning has helped us define how our program will continue to mature in the coming months.

At a glance, here is a summary of our activity this year:

Early in the year, we committed to establishing and maintaining Grant for the Web as a driver of equitable creative, technological, and financial opportunities. We focussed on funding globally diverse awardees, and projects that benefitted historically underrepresented groups. 64% of the funding dollars committed this year went to awardees that identified as non-white. Since the program’s inception, we have funded projects from 36 countries. There is still significant room for improvement, but we are getting there thanks in large part to the community outreach of Grant for the Web’s Ambassador Program Manager, Kokayi Walker. Kokayi is helping launch a cohort of Community Outreach Ambassadors to inspire, support, and prepare more people to innovate in the open payments ecosystem. Kokayi describes it this way,

The focal point of my involvement in this project is to lessen those gaps of access and equity for BIPOC innovators and to position communities that have systematically been denied those opportunities to be able to become stakeholders and beneficiaries of the ideas they help to support.”

Our biggest takeaways and thematic observations from the ecosystem are teaching us that Interledger technology holds immense promise, but will benefit from more participation and continued innovation. Challenges include a lack of nodes in the ecosystem: Coil remains the only Web Monetization provider and digital wallets on the Interledger Network are limited to Uphold and Gatehub. Also, the lack of a critical mass of Web Monetized users on the web slows the pace of innovation. But community members have been designing solutions for communicating with people about the technology: Erica Hargreave has collected these ideas in her series, Educating Your Community about Web Monetization.

The ecosystem around The Interledger Protocol and Web Monetization API is also developing. Rafiki will enable e-commerce, subscriptions, and delegated access use cases on the Interledger Network; the Web Monetization spec has recently been revamped, and we’re starting to explore a real-world proof-of-concept for Open Payments. The Interledger ecosystem has gained momentum this year and Web Monetization is now part of popular developer communities like Forem, HackerNoon, and FreeCodeCamp. Fynbos emerged in the ecosystem, and they’re using Interledger to build a better global payment network for the future Internet economy.

Alex Lakatos, Interledger Foundation's Technology Lead, has brought more firepower to the team. From working with Marcos Canceres to revamp the official Web Monetization specification proposed to the W3C, to activating the Interledger community, Alex has brought much needed technical capacity to the Grant for the Web program. 

Careful observers will also note that Ayesha Ware, who manages our awardee support, has expanded her role to support the broader community. From curating content in weekly round-ups in the community space to organizing community events, she provides a welcoming front door to curious folks from around the globe who are learning what our community is all about.

As we close out the year, here are highlights from 2021:

  • Interledger Foundation’s Briana Marbury discusses financial inclusion, Grant for the Web, and our organizational mission on Cheddar News
  • Our Second Chance cohort proving that feedback loops and perseverance can push projects to funding
  • The incredible discussion that took place in the Snake Nation community call
  • Seeing funded projects like Skittish  mature and go to market
  • Our grant-making partner IGDAF’s Diverse Game Developers showcase (Day 1, Day 2)
  • Running our open-source simulation game, Money City, at MozFest

Stay tuned! In early 2022 we’ll post about our plans for the year, including more about our evolving philosophy around effective grantmaking for an open, web-payments ecosystem driven by Interledger.

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