Submissions open for ICANN Grant Program

Deadline Date: May 24, 2024

Donor Name: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

Grant Size: $100,000 to $500,000

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has launched the ICANN Grant Program to make contributions to the Internet ecosystem while also positively impacting people all over the world by investing in creative and innovative solutions that further ICANN’s vision of a single, open, and globally interoperable Internet.

ICANN’s mission is to help ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems. To reach another person on the Internet, you need to type an address – a name or a number – into your computer or other device. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a nonprofit public benefit corporation with a community of participants from all over the world.

Program Objectives 

  • ICANN is a champion of the single, open, and globally interoperable Internet that enables billions of users around the world to connect with each other: conduct business; access information, services, and education; and share ideas. The free flow of information is critical to the development and vitality of any society. 
  • ICANN is the independent, trusted, multistakeholder steward of the Internet’s unique identifier systems. Its mission is to ensure the stable and secure operation of those systems. The program is envisioned as a mechanism to fund projects that encourage, facilitate, and support ICANN’s mission and its vision of a single, open, and globally interoperable Internet. 
  • The types of initiatives that the program will fund include those that support the ICANN mission by:
    • Benefitting the development, distribution, and evolution of the services and systems that support the Internet’s unique identifier systems 
    • Providing capacity development 
    • Advancing developments, innovation, and open standards for the benefit of the Internet community 
    • Contributing to diversity, participation, and inclusion across stakeholder communities and geographic regions

Problem Statement

  • The importance of the Internet to the economic, social, and political systems around the world is increasing with the expansion of its user base, content, and applications. Internet connectivity continues to accelerate globally. This growth brings with it increased pressures on the reliability, stability, and security of the Domain Name System (DNS) and the Internet.
  • Future growth of the Internet will include the rapid evolution of emerging technologies, business models, and security threats presenting new challenges every day. As the number of Internet-connected devices increases, it is critical that the Internet’s unique identifier systems continue to serve a broader and more diverse global user base. For example, despite global Internet penetration reaching 66 percent of the world’s population, language barriers limit usability for communities around the world.
  • As the Internet grows, so does the need for resilient and sustainable networks and systems that can respond to evolving demands of its users. Expanding use and access, improving performance and interoperability, and fostering participation and capacity of its stakeholders will ensure the Internet continues to play its crucial role in the development of the world for generations to come.

Funding Themes 

  • Proposed projects should address at least one of the following funding themes and associated work areas for the first cycle:
    • Theme 1: The Internet’s unique identifier systems
      • funding under this theme will support efforts on one or more of the following work areas:
        • Supporting standards development in relation to the Internet’s unique identifier systems 
        • Supporting long-term usability and sustainability of the DNS 
        • Strengthening the security and stability of the Internet’s unique identifier systems 
        • Enhancing Universal Acceptance to ensure truly multilingual and digitally inclusive systems 
        • Promoting innovative projects that expand the use of the Internet’s unique identifier systems 
        • Improving the performance of the Internet’s unique identifier systems 
    • Theme 2: A Unified Internet 
      • Fundingunder this theme will support efforts on one or more of the following work areas:
        • Advancing work related to open access to the Internet 
        • Enhancing Internet interoperability to cope with unexpected contingencies, including those that may exclude certain communities from the global DNS 
        • Enhancing the resiliency and sustainability of the Internet at the local, national, or global level 
    • Overarching Themes: Additional considerations for project design Furthermore, the following two underlying themes should be considered by applicants in the design of their projects and will be considered by the Independent Application Assessment Panel when assessing projects:
      • Diversity, participation, and inclusion of underserved populations 
      • Impact and outcomes that can be sustained through capacity development for the purposes of the program, “underserved populations” refers to those populations that experience barriers in accessing the mechanisms, services, or tools enabled by the Internet’s unique identifiers. This may include those from a particular community, country, geographic region, minority, or other group sharing a specific characteristic.

Funding Information

  • The total amount available for grants in this first cycle is $10 million.
  • Applications can be submitted for grant awards between $50,000 and $500,000. These award thresholds are for the first cycle only and will be reassessed for future cycles.
  • The maximum project duration is 24 months.

Expected Outcomes

  • ICANN expects that funding projects aligned to the themes and areas outlined above will result in increased reliability, stability, interoperability, and security of the Internet and its unique identifier systems. These intended outcomes will lead to a broader and more diverse user base with greater capacity to further develop and improve the Internet around the world.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Be a charitable organization
    • Applicants within the U.S. must have a 501(c)(3) determination from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 
    • Applicants outside of the U.S. must be charitable in nature and be able to provide relevant governing and financial documentation, upon ICANN’s request, to confirm equivalency to a U.S. 501(c)(3).
  • Support ICANN’s compliance with relevant U.S. laws, rules, and regulations
    • ICANN must comply with the economic and trade sanctions program administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. These sanctions have been imposed on certain countries, as well as individuals and entities that appear on OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (the “SDN List”). 
    • ICANN is prohibited from providing most goods or services to residents of sanctioned countries or their governmental entities or to SDNs without an applicable U.S. government authorization or exemption. 
    • ICANN generally will not seek a license to provide goods or services to an individual or entity on the SDN List. In the past, when ICANN has been requested to provide services to individuals or entities that are not SDNs, but are residents of sanctioned countries, ICANN has sought and been granted licenses as required. However, ICANN is under no obligation to seek such licenses and, in any given case, the OFAC could decide not to issue a requested license, or one may not be obtained in sufficient time for consideration within the current grant cycle.
  • Have no conflicts of interest
    • Applicants (and other organizations listed within the proposal) must be free from actual, potential, or perceived conflicts of interest with ICANN or its affiliate Public Technical Identifiers, as well as any vendors announced for assessment of Grant Program applications. 
    • No person that participated as a member (including temporary member appointments) of the Cross-Community Working Group on New gTLD Auction Proceeds (CCWG-AP) is eligible to apply for or be included within funded proposal activities as principals, advisors, or in other roles. Grants may not be awarded to businesses and organizations owned in whole or in part by the CCWG-AP members or their family members. Grant funding may not be used to pay compensation to CCWG-AP members or their family members. 
    • No person who is or has been within the past one year an officer, employee, contractor, consultant, Board Director, or Board Liaison of ICANN or its affiliate, nor their family members is eligible to apply for or be included within funded proposal activities as principals, officers, directors, advisors, or in other roles.
  • Meet due diligence standards
    • Applicants must provide information on the legal establishment of their organization, as well as the identification of directors and officers of the organization. 
    • Applicants must be in good corporate standing under their applicable laws and regulations. 
    • Background screening at both the organization level and the individual level will be conducted to confirm eligibility and assess risk. 
    • ICANN reserves the right to reject an application, even if the applicant is otherwise qualified, based on information uncovered during the due diligence process. 
    • This information may include, but is not limited to, any convictions of a criminal nature or judgments against an applicant or any individual listed in the application, uncovered during the due diligence process where permitted, and pertaining to financial or corporate governance activities, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, willful tax-related fraud, intentional evasion of tax liabilities, computer or telephone crimes, or violations of child protection and safeguarding. This information may also be used to identify other risks potentially linked to integrity, identity, finance, cybersecurity, governance, and operations.
  • Have a bank account in the applicant organization’s name
    • Account should be legally registered under the applicant organization’s legal business name. 
    • Account must be able to receive transfers from a U.S. financial institution.

For more information, visit ICANN.

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