Open Collective
Open Collective

Digital Infrastructure Grants

Research grants for the study of digital infrastructure maintenance.


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Support the following initiatives from Digital Infrastructure Grants.

Digital Infrastructure Insights program 2023

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Will cross-company visibility into shared free and open source dependencies lead to cross-company...

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How a Creative Commons model for API Terms of Service participate in the creation of open, safe a...

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Operational budget for the Digital Infrastructure Insights grants initiative

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Top financial contributors

Ford Foundation

$605,000 USD since Aug 2020

Sloan Foundation

$605,000 USD since Feb 2021

Open Society Foundations

$100,000 USD since Jul 2020

Omidyar Network

$50,000 USD since Oct 2020

Mozilla Foundation

$25,000 USD since Aug 2020

Digital Infrastructure Grants is all of us

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Thank you for supporting Digital Infrastructure Grants.


Everything in our modern society, from hospitals and banks to universities and social media platforms, runs on software. Nearly all of this software is built on “digital infrastructure,” a foundation of free and public code that is designed to solve common challenges. The benefits of digital infrastructure are numerous: it can reduce the cost of setting up new businesses, support data-driven discovery across research disciplines, enable complex technologies such as smartphones to talk to each other, and allow everyone to have access to important innovations like encryption that would otherwise be too expensive. Sharing code to address common challenges is in principle cheaper, easier and more efficient.

While the collective action problems that characterize infrastructure funding are well-explored, the industrial organization of digital infrastructure is less well-understood. In 2016, the Ford Foundation funded a report by Nadia Eghbal titled “Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure” that described how that the development and maintenance of digital infrastructure often falls to communities of volunteers who take it upon themselves to maintain this infrastructure in their own free time and for little or no money. Unsurprisingly, this leads to significant risks to the open internet and the ability to develop new, innovative research and businesses within it.

In order to better understand the incentives and constraints that influence the maintenance of digital infrastructure, in 2018 the Sloan and Ford Foundations funded a portfolio of 13 research projects. 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, this RFP invited 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, Omidyar and Open Society Foundations. .

In addition, for this second phase we've invited proposals that would move findings from the first funded research cohort into practice. 

Given the impacts and challenges facing open source communities worldwide, these research projects span the globe, including initiatives in the United States, South Africa, India, Brazil, and Mexico. Researchers will focus on issue areas including: 

  • How COVID data systems are created and transformed by the open source community; 
  • How indigenous communities and land defenders in Brazil have been using digital infrastructure in their fight against climate change; 
  • How do perceptions of unfairness when contributing to an open source project affect their sustainability; 
  • How public-private cooperation at the national level in India can support the development of software solutions to digitize government services. 

Our team


Transparent and open finances.

Today’s balance

$22.09 USD

Total raised

$1,281,583.03 USD

Total disbursed

$1,281,560.94 USD