Grant for the Web

Program Charter

Problem statement

Monetization of works shared on the web can be a challenge for both content creators and those who use their content. Without an open, fair, inclusive standard in broad use that supports choice, the web will remain dominated by a relatively few large content aggregators.

Purpose and outcomes

The Grant for the Web Program (GftW Program) is a $100 million fund that enables content creators and software developers to adopt and advance Web Monetization and the Interledger Protocol: open standards for better, alternative online business models that benefit the public good.

The GftW Program will help create an ecosystem built on these open standards to enable innovation, competition, and creativity both among creators and among the monetization service providers that arrange for paying them. 

The GftW Program is dedicated to benefiting the public good through building a robust web monetization ecosystem, which will:

  • Broaden participation on the web, including by groups that have historically had less access around the world, by better enabling creators to be paid for their work and by better enabling users to support the creators of content that they consume
  • Protect privacy by creating alternatives for web monetization that are not dependent on collecting users’ data, for example, platforms that don’t require consumers to share data with content creators or submit their browsing history to collection by the monetization platform
  • Lower the costs of being paid for content on the web by creating an open payment ecosystem that enables competition among payment providers
  • Incentivize innovation on the web by making it possible to be paid for content that is currently not monetized or is monetized at very low rates
  • Invest in the creation of open content and open source software
  • Support ongoing projects as well as incentivize new projects directed at accomplishing the foregoing

Grant for the Web overall structure

The GftW Program operates as an independent, Coil-led program funded 100% by Coil initially. While not a separate legal entity, its activities and operations will be conducted under the auspices of Coil in collaboration with founding collaborators the Mozilla Foundation (Mozilla) and Creative Commons (CC), and additional collaborators that may be added in the future.

This project envisions additional collaborators that may join upon agreement of the then-existing collaborators and signing of a Strategic Collaboration Agreement with Coil. Mozilla, CC and new collaborators that sign a Strategic Collaboration Agreement are Collaborating Members. Coil and Collaborating Members collectively are Collaborators.

The day-to-day administration of GftW Program will be run by the GftW Program Team under contract from Coil. The longer-term, multi-year program design is expected to evolve but is bounded by the terms of this Charter and the Strategic Collaboration Agreements with the Collaborating Members, including those with Mozilla and CC.

Grant criteria and decision-making processes shall be agreed upon among Coil, Mozilla and CC initially, and thereafter between Coil and the Advisory Council once the Advisory Council is established. Processes will be administered by the GftW Program Team. Applications will be solicited through open calls; exceptions may be made from time-to-time where exceptional circumstances merit a deviation, all as determined by and with the approval of the Advisory Council. Grant decisions shall be made solely based on how well they support the GftW Program’s public benefit objectives, not on the basis of whether or how they benefit any of the Collaborators. Similarly, none of the Collaborators are endorsing or supporting Coil as a company or its business model, but rather are focused on the successful launch and operation of the GftW Program and the associated open Web Monetization standard, the open Interledger Protocol, and the surrounding ecosystem in support of the public good.

Special consideration will be given to projects that reflect the Collaborators’ values of promoting a vibrant commons on the internet of shareable content; increasing users’ autonomy, privacy, and control over their own data; promoting diversity and inclusion on the internet; and increasing access to the full capacity of the internet, both for content consumption and content creation, for communities and individuals that have historically been marginalized, disadvantaged, or without such access. In furtherance of principles of openness, which connect the parties and underlie this program, the GftW Program will have as a target the award of no less than 50% of all grant dollars awarded in a year to proposed software projects and content projects that will be openly licensed, defined in the case of software as under an OSI-approved open source license, and in the case of content as under a CC license (Open License). These grants in support of openness will support developers, individuals and organizations seeking to enable monetization of works that are openly-licensed.

Advisory Council

The GftW Advisory Council has authority to set strategy, guide program purpose and design, publicly advocate for the GftW Program, oversee the awarding of grants and development of grant criteria and processes, and make final decisions on grants to be awarded under the GftW Program, all as detailed below.

Advisory Council members will work together to establish a resolution process in the event they cannot come to consensus on a particular issue. The Advisory Council will initially consist of a single representative from each of Coil, CC, and Mozilla. The representative from Coil will chair the Advisory Council.

Additions to the Advisory Council will be decided by a majority vote of the Advisory Council. Additional Advisory Council members may be added even though they are not also made a Collaborating Member.

The Advisory Council has the authority to establish sub-advisory councils, external review committees, or otherwise consult with experts to secure necessary expertise in order to evaluate grant applications and otherwise fulfill its duties as described in this Charter, at the discretion of the Advisory Council. 

Responsibilities of Advisory Council

Support launch of the GftW Program

  • Design and implement the process for making the initial round of grant awards to be announced in connection with the GftW Program launch planned for September 2019.
  • Develop clearly defined objectives and outcomes for the GftW Program.
  • Provide expertise on the needs, gaps and opportunities in the web monetization ecosystem.
  • Design grantmaking strategy for the GftW Program (e.g., determine the kinds of grantees and projects that will support the needs of the program and achieve the program goals and outcomes).
  • Provide strategic advice on the GftW Program elements designed and implemented by the GftW Program Team (e.g., provide feedback and approval for RFPs, application forms and review criteria and process, timelines, workflows, and a ‘monitoring, evaluation & learning’ plan).

Governance of the GftW Program

  • Approve new Collaborating Members and the terms and conditions of their Strategic Collaboration Agreements. Collaborating Members will automatically have a seat on the Advisory Council.
  • Nominate and approve new members to the Advisory Council.
  • Approve amendments to this Charter.
  • Approve amendments to agreements regarding services provided by the GftW Program Team.
  • Establish grantmaking policies that guide the operation of the GftW Program and reflect and promote the values of the GftW Program.
  • Approve funding decisions, final awardees and grant amounts based on recommendations by sub-advisory councils, external review committees, the TAG (defined below), and/or other experts as the Advisory Council may engage, if any, ensuring that these funding decisions support the program’s objectives and target award thresholds, and are aligned with the Collaborators’ shared goals of: 

    Transparency and regular public reporting: in the case of the GftW Program, reporting on funding and other activities including decision-making criteria, structures for grant-making such as the application and review process, and members of any sub-advisory councils, external review committees and other experts engaged, subject to the GftW Program privacy policy and other applicable laws; and in the case of grant recipients, reporting on grant outcomes as is customary for recipients of grants from foundations or similarly-situated grant programs. 

    Diversity and inclusiveness: in the case of the GftW Program, in the grant award process and composition of the Advisory Council and TAG (defined below); and in the case of grant recipients, hiring and employment practices.

Promote the GftW Program

  • Promote the GftW Program to the public.

Assess impact & guide ongoing development of the GftW Program

  • Review progress toward GftW Program goals and outcomes and revise grant-making strategy as needed.

Technical Advisory Group

In addition to the Advisory Council, the Collaborators will each designate an advisor who will serve on a Technical Advisory Group (“TAG”). The purpose of this group will be to judge, vet, and make recommendations to guide the direction and strategic aspects of the GftW Program and review all grant applications from a technical perspective. The TAG will not have any independent authority within the program structure. 

Responsibilities of the GftW Program Team

The GftW Program Team shall be retained and paid for by Coil to manage all programmatic aspects of the GftW Program on an operational level, in accordance with overall guidance from the Advisory Council. In addition to its other obligations described in this Charter and in the Strategic Collaboration Agreements signed by Collaborators, it shall manage disbursing funds, build the GftW Program network, manage communications with grantees, and develop case studies. 

Operational overview

The GftW Program Team will provide day-to-day administrative services for the GftW Program under contract with Coil, on terms reviewed and agreed upon by Mozilla and CC initially, and thereafter by the Advisory Council, if revised.

The GftW Program Team will set objectives and key results (OKRs) for the GftW Program to ensure the GftW Program goals set forth in this Charter are met. The Advisory Council will review and approve these objectives and key results. In total, the Collaborators expect the GftW Program to last 3 to 5 years, and disburse $100 million in grants over that time period.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, unless otherwise discontinued as provided in the following section, the GftW Program and this Charter will endure until such as time as the full amount of $100 million in grants is disbursed and all Coil responsibilities and obligations under the Charter have been fulfilled.

At regular intervals but no less than semi-annually, the GftW Program Team will prepare public reports on the GftW Program’s activities and accomplishments. The Advisory Council will review and approve these reports before broader publication.

Withdrawal from the Advisory Council; Termination of the GftW Program

Should any Collaborating Member come to believe that it is no longer in its interest to continue on the Advisory Council or as part of the GftW Program under its Strategic Collaboration Agreement, that Collaborating Member shall inform the Advisory Council consistent with the terms of its Strategic Collaboration Agreement. 

The Collaborating Members and Coil agree to work together to make good faith, reasonable efforts to realign the GftW Program (including the Advisory Council) to avoid withdrawal of the Collaborating Member to the extent allowed by the Strategic Collaboration Agreement. Should a Collaborating Member decide that it wishes to withdraw in any event, it may do so with thirty days written notice to the Advisory Council or as otherwise stated in its Strategic Collaboration Agreement. The withdrawing Collaborating Member shall work in good faith with the remaining members of the Advisory Council and the GftW Program Team to prepare a mutually agreeable public announcement regarding the withdrawal.  

Should Coil come to believe that it is no longer in its interest to continue the GftW Program, Coil shall promptly inform the Advisory Council of its decision and the reasons therefor.  Such notice shall be provided no less than 90 days before the discontinuance of the GftW Program and shall include a detailed wind-down plan. In such event, Coil, the GftW Program Team, and the Collaborating Members will work in good faith to prepare a mutually agreeable public announcement regarding the discontinuance of the GftW Program. In all events, Coil and the GftW Program Team agree to honor all funding commitments that have been made to specific grantees notwithstanding such discontinuance.